Tourists pose for souvenir photos in Boracay, Aklan in this file photo taken on April 6, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

TOURIST ARRIVALS in the Philippines are expected to jump by 33% this year, but will only return to the pre-pandemic level by 2025, Fitch Solutions’ unit BMI said.

In a report, BMI said it maintains a “positive outlook” for Philippine tourist arrivals through 2028, driven by tourists from key markets in the Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe.

“We forecast Philippines’ tourist arrivals to grow by 32.6% year on year in 2024 to reach 6.6 million, up from the 5 million arrivals in 2023. The 2024 arrivals will be at 81% of the pre-pandemic level in 2019 (8.2 million arrivals),” it said.

BMI’s projection is lower than the Department of Tourism’s (DoT) target to attract 7.7 million international visitors this year.

As of April 24, the DoT reported that the Philippines has logged in over 2 million international visitors, up by 15.11% from a year ago.

So far this year, South Korea is the biggest source of tourist arrivals (27.19%), followed by the United States (15.71%), China (6.49%), Japan (6.13%) and Australia (4.38%), according to the DoT.

BMI said the Philippine tourism market’s post-pandemic recovery “remains underway.” Tourist arrivals to the Philippines plunged by 82.9% to 1.4 million in 2020 as the borders were shut due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We forecast the Philippines’ arrivals to continue to increase over the remainder of our medium-term forecast period fully recovering in 2025 as they reach 8.3 million, rising above the pre-pandemic level in 2019,” BMI said.

BMI projects tourist arrivals to the Philippines to grow by an average of 14% annually from 2024 to 2028. Tourist arrivals are expected to reach 9.4 million by 2028.

However, BMI said the tourism outlook faces risks as elevated inflation in key markets may dampen appetite for travel.

“While we have a positive outlook for Philippines’ arrivals, there are short-term risks stemming from high living costs in many markets globally and tighter credit conditions which will weigh on consumer spending, particularly on nonessential categories such as travel,” it said. — LMJCJ