Tourism Undersecretary Daniel G. Corpuz said the US is the Philippines’ second biggest tourist market and balikbayan tourists make up a big chunk of US arrivals here — reported at 624,527 or 15.94% of total arrivals last year.
“The unemployment problem in the US impacts quite heavily, particularly on the balikbayan market. If the economy is bad, most Filipino-Americans will defer their travel and set aside vacation funds for trying times,” he told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of a tourism month symposium here.
He said the probability of reaching this year’s target of 4.55 million arrivals is “more than 50%.”
“Our chance to achieve 4.5 million arrivals this year will increase if the US economy will improve before November,” he added.
Mr. Corpuz said that the country welcomed 2.9 million tourists from January to August this year.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) reported on its Web site that as of July, Korean tourists topped arrivals at 578,062, or 22.93% of the total in the first seven months of the year.
“Korea is the top [tourist market] because of [the] shorter travel time, close affinity between the two countries, and trade and industry linkages between [the] two countries,” Mr. Corpuz said.
Other top markets are Japan, with 9.18% and China, which accounted for 6.59% of arrivals as of July. — Sarwell Q. Meniano
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