‘Fearless forecast’ of 1-M foreign tourists by yearend

FOREIGN tourist arrivals in the Philippines are projected to exceed 1 million by the end of 2022, supporting recent tourism reports of a quick turnaround in the travel industry.

Jose C. Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, made this forecast in his presentation Wednesday at the Livable Cities Philippines webinar on “Revenge Travel: Post-Pandemic Tourist Boom.” He said, “Demand continues to remain robust for the following months, and we expect more arrivals for the winter season of 2022, barring any unforeseen events. My fearless forecast is that by the end of the year, we should be seeing numbers of about 1.1 million to 1.3 million [foreign tourist arrivals].”

He noted these inbound arrivals “is a far cry” from the 8.26 million foreign tourists received pre-pandemic, in 2019, “but considering where we came from, those numbers [1-1.3 million] actually bodes quite well for the tourism industry.”

His optimism is fueled on the speed by which foreign tourists have arrived and the return of the “long-haul markets” like Europe and North America, which have loosened their respective travel restrictions and allowed their citizens to return to their home countries without quarantining. Clemente is also president of Rajah Tours Philippines, a popular tour operator among balikbayans (homecoming Filipinos) and European tourists.

Inbound arrivals break 300K-mark

Data provided by the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed 319,047 inbound arrivals from February 10, since the country reopened to the leisure travel markets, to April 25. This comes on the heels of the Philippines’s successful hosting of the 21st Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) from April 20 to 22.

“The sustained growth in foreign arrivals in the country indicates the recovery of our tourism industry, and thus the country’s overall economy. With the recent holding of the WTTC Global Summit in the Philippines, the DOT is optimistic that foreign tourism arrivals to the country will pick up even more as foreigners are made aware of the Philippines as a safe and fun destination to travel,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat in a news statement.   

Of total arrivals for the reference period, 129,062 were balikbayans (40.5 percent of total), and foreign tourists were 189,985 (59.6 percent).

The next big destination

Meanwhile, Clemente predicted Siquijor would probably be the next big tourism destination five years from now.

More popularly known as a place for aswangs, manananggals, and mangkukulams, he jested, “But once you get there, I’d even call it a spiritual place. It’s so quiet, peaceful, and laidback. It’s a place to recharge and get away from the world. It’s not yet crowded, the roads are quite nice, I was very surprised.” At present though, the island is only accessible via Dumaguete or Bohol.

The recent surge in domestic tourism brought most people to Boracay Island, Baguio, Cebu, and Bohol, he said. During the Lenten break, the massive influx of tourists in Boracay caused a breach in its carrying capacity.

The boom in domestic travel lifted the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product in 2021 by 129 percent, according to a report from the WTTC, making the Philippines the world’s fourth fastest growing economy that year.  (See, “WTTC sees PHL raising $155 billion by 2032,” in the BusinessMirror, April 20, 2022).

Image credits: Michael Edwards | Dreamstime.com