THE Department of Tourism (DoT) backed away from its full-year target of 7.4 million visitor arrivals, saying that the six-month closure of Boracay means the department’s new stretch goal is in the low 7 million range.
Tourism officials made the announcement in releasing the 10 months to October visitor arrival total of 5.88 million, up 7.43%.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told reporters Thursday that the 2018 visitor total is likely to surpass that of 2017, but the department may not meet its target.
“Though (arrivals have been) increasing, we have to admit (the impact of) the closure of Boracay… a top destination… for six months. I’m confident that (arrivals) will surpass the previous year but I doubt it will reach 7.4 million,” Ms. Romulo said, adding that she will be happy with a total of 7 to 7.2 million arrivals.
Arrivals for 2017 totaled 6.6 million.
The new, downgraded target means the number of visitors to the Philippines is roughly equivalent to the number of people who visit the Eiffel Tower each year.
Tourism Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon, Jr. said that the target for 2019 is 8.2 million, subject to the final review of the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) next year.
“The instruction of the secretary is to review the NTDP next year. (…) We will not only be reviewing strategic directions and programs but we will also be reviewing indicators which include the number of arrivals, revenue, and other economic indicators,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez