By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA — Citing figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization Barometer, the Department of Tourism (DoT) on January 24, said the Philippines has recorded its highest-ever number of tourist arrivals in 2018 at 7,127,168 foreigners, a 7.65 percent increase from the 6,620,908 recorded in 2017.

The DoT said the figures outpaced the world average for tourism growth and six-percent average growth rate for Asia and the Pacific.

In a report by Rappler, the record still felt short of the DoT’s target of 7.4 million tourist arrivals, with the Department on its National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022 eyeing 8.2 million tourists in 2019.

“The challenging act of closing down Boracay – a flagship destination, the country’s top sun-and-beach destination – has evidently become a blessing in disguise for secondary tourism spots to have a share of the limelight and attention they truly deserve,” Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo Puyat said, noting the closure has opened opportunities for other destinations such as Siargao, Iloilo, Palawan, La Union, Romblon and Siquijor.

Photo:A 12 ft x 50 ft signage featuring the famous Puka beach will greet tourists upon the reopening of
Boracay. By Lara Climaco

“With this, we have also seen the transition from a mass tourism perspective shifting into a high-value tourism direction that prioritize quality over mere quantity,” she added.

Meanwhile, the data also showed that South Korea remained the top source, with 1.59 million visitors to the Philippines in 2018.

The Philippine government is reportedly considering shortening the visa on arrival process for Chinese travellers.

Furthermore, the Philippines’ friendlier ties with China under the Duterte administration has brought more Chinese tourists in the country, with a record high of 1.26 million arrivals.

“The influx of Chinese tourists in the country made China the “most improved market” according to the DoT, with a 29.62 percent growth rate,” Rappler reported.

It’s More Fun in the Philippines
In a statement on January 25, the DoT said it is eyeing the revival of the It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign, tapping once again BBDO Guerrero Inc., the same agency that came up with the slogan in 2012.

“After three months and two rounds of highly competitive bidding, advertising agency BBDO Guerrero Inc. was awarded the contract to refresh the ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ branding campaign and complementing them is Touch XDA Inc. that would serve as the media planning and buying agency that will steward strategic international placements,” the DoT said in a statement recently.

In a report by The Philippine Star, the DoT has earlier posted “four major projects up for bidding by interested advertising agencies.”

Aside from the campaign, BBDO Guerrero was also tapped to develop a digital public relations campaign for the Philippines as a “premier sustainable tourism destination.”

Moreover, DDB Philippines Inc. has been chosen by the DoT to promote sustainable and responsible tourism in the country.