THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said growth in visitor receipts, a measure of spending by international tourists, topped 20% in 2019 to $9.31 billion, after visitor numbers grew to record levels.

In a statement Monday, DoT said the rise in spending totals reflects above-target visitor numbers of 8.2 million in 2019, breaching the DoT’s target of 8 million.

The DoT’s Office of Tourism Development Planning, Research and Information Management (OTDPRIM) estimated that on average, daily tourist expenditure was $128.35 and $1,218.04 over the entire trip.

The DoT said South Korea remained the top source of visitors with an estimated total spend of $2.6 billion. Visitors from China spent $2.3 billion while visitors from the US spent $1.2 billion. It identified the other top sources of visitors as Japan, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, the UK, Germany and Malaysia.

Despite the current travel ban in China and the partial travel ban in South Korea amid the rising global cases of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“The Philippine tourism industry’s continued impressive performance dramatizes the dedication, hard work and resilience of its stakeholders through a most challenging year. We count on the same enduring qualities to get us through the challenges this year,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said. — Gillian M. Cortez