MANILA, FEBRUARY 11, 2012 (abs-cbn) Foreign tourist arrivals in the Philippines hit a record high last year, and the government is confident that the country's new brand campaign will further improve the numbers.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed total visitor arrivals in the country increased by 11.28% to 3.917 million in 2011, breaking the previous record of 3.52 million in 2010. The figure also surpassed by 4.6% the DOT's 2011 visitor arrivals target of 3.7 million.

With the full rollout of the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" international slogan, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez expects 2012 to be another banner year.

"When the industry exceeds expectations as it had done last year, we feel very encouraged. And with the overwhelming response to our new brand campaign launched last month, we know that we have broken ground on crowdsourcing. The people's campaign will help bring more numbers," he said.

Among the months last year, December saw the most number of tourist arrivals, at 394,567, and November had the biggest growth of 19.8% over the 2010 figure, at 337,021.

East Asia continued to lead all regional markets with 1,837,681 arrivals, 46.91% of the total number last year. South Korea remained as the strongest single market with 925,204 arrivals for a 23.62% share of visitor volume.

Elsewhere in the region, Japan (375,496 visitors, 9.59% share), China (243,137, 6.21%) and Taiwan (181,738, 4.64%) ranked 3rd, 4th and 5th among all individual markets respectively, while Hong Kong's 112,106 visitors were good for 9th place. China and Taiwan were the greatest gainers, up 29.71% and 27.58% from 2010, respectively.

Visitors from the US, the Philippines' second-largest tourist market, totaled 624,527 for a 15.94% share of all tourist traffic. Australia and Canada experienced double-digit growths to 170,736 and 117,423 arrivals, 6th and 9th highest among all countries.

Meanwhile, Singapore and Malaysia provided the majority of the 331,672 visitors from ASEAN, wherein the Philippines expects greater integration in tourism following the 15th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Manado, Indonesia last month.

Northern and Western Europe posted near-identical numbers after modest growth with 164,205 and 157,265 arrivals, respectively.

Emerging markets India and Russia continued their fast climb, improving 23.89% and 37.86% from 2010 numbers to 42,844 and 20,185 visitors, respectively. The Middle East also remained robust, with 55,829 arrivals representing a 14.6% rise.

This year, the Philippines aims to attract 4.2 million tourists.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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