$3  BILLION  IN  TOURISM  REVENUES  EXPECTED  THIS  YEAR

MANILA, APRIL 8, 2007 (STAR) By Helen Flores - The Department of Tourism (DOT) expects an increase of $3 billion in revenues this year with the anticipated growth in foreign arrivals that officials said would spur more investments in the industry.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano yesterday said the department is expecting international arrivals to hit 3.1 million this year, 100,000 higher than its three-million target last year.

"This should translate to $3 billion in tourism receipts. This growth in arrivals will support ongoing expansions and new investments," Durano told The STAR.

In 2006, international tourism receipts from 2.84 million visitors to the Philippines totaled $2.7 billion or about P135 billion.

Durano said in February alone, foreign arrivals rose by 11 percent compared to figures in the same period last year.

Initial data for March, he added, showed that international arrivals went up by 15 percent.

Meanwhile, Durano said the bulk of tourists, especially domestic travelers, are expected to flock to popular beach destinations this summer.

"Our summer is just a normal season for international arrivals. However, it is peak for domestic travel. We have not been setting targets for domestic travel although it is also growing. One positive trend here is the expansion to non-traditional summer destinations for domestic travelers," he said.

"Of course Tagaytay, Subic and Baguio are usual destinations. Today domestic travelers are also flocking to the most popular beach destinations like Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan. On top of this, domestic travelers are going to non-traditional destinations like Batanes, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Dakak and Davao," he said.

Last year, international visitors grew by 8.4 percent, at 2.8 million, higher than the 2.6 million arrivals in 2005.

The Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) also sees a boom in the tourism industry. Although there is another reason for this apart from visits to the usual summer retreat destinations: the coming national elections.

PTA general manager Robert Barbers projected double growth in foreign and local travelers due to the coming electoral exercise.

Barbers noted that in the 2004 presidential elections, tourist arrivals increased by 20.14 percent, as compared to a very low -1.32 percent the year before. With Mayen Jaymalin


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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