MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has seen a big surge in tourists coming from Malaysia, according to figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Tourist arrivals from Malaysia rose 21.92% to 91,230 in the 10 months to October from last year, the second fastest growth next to the 22.98% increase in arrivals from Taiwan. The latest number is also close to surpassing the 2011 total tourist arrivals from Malaysia of 97,154.
This growth makes Malaysia the Philippines' 10th top tourism market, up from 11th place last year.
“The surge in Malaysian tourist arrivals is the second strongest growth the Philippines has seen among its many markets, only surpassed by those coming from Taiwan,” said Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya.
“We expect that this significant growth to continue and also see more foreign tourists going to Davao, Siargao and other destinations in Mindanao in the light of the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This may unlock the terrific tourism potentials of the region,” he added.
According to the DFA, the increase is credited to a surge in air travel between the Philippines and Malaysia with the launch of flights by two new airlines and the opening of another route by a third airline company.
Korea is still the Philippines number one tourist market, with 832,437 tourists a year. The US comes second (534,899), followed by Japan (341,676), China (215,814), Taiwan (188,862), Australia (147,237), Singapore (111,200), Hong Kong (98,967) and Canada (96,089).
In December, Chinese tourists started returning to destinations in the Philippines following a slowdown in May due to a territorial dispute between the two countries over tthe Scarborough Shoal.
While China did not officially ban travel to the Philippines, there were reports that the Chinese government ordered travel agents to stop offering Philippine tour packages.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) is also looking toward India as a new emerging tourism market. In the first 10 months of 2012, Indian tourists accounted for 38,108 arrivals in the Philippines, up 8.18% from a year earlier. In October alone, arrivals from India grew 42% year-on-year, DOT data showed.
DOT plans to join Routes Asia Mumbai next year, to expand air connectivity between India and Philippine destinations. The DOT has also eased entry requirements for Indian national by allowing visa on arrival.
The government announced that it is targeting 5.5 million tourism arrivals in 2013, a million more than the 4.5 target in 2012.
“In terms of tourism performance, we ended 2011 with 3.9 million. We hope to end 2012 with 4.5 million and target an additional 1 million visitors for next year that will give us 5.5 million tourist arrivals,” Tourism Undersecretary for Promotions Daniel Corpuz said in a briefing in August.
Between January to July of 2012, tourist arrivals reached 2.5 million, over 55% of the annual target. - Rappler.com