According to the data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Philippines remained to be the least favorite tourist destination when compared to other ASEAN member countries as of 2012. The country’s tourist arrivals only reached a total of 4.27 million in 2012, which records as the lowest when compared to other ASEAN members. The foreign tourist arrivals were highest in the country of Malaysia with a total of 25.03 million, followed by Thailand with 22.35 million, then Indonesia with 8.04 million and Vietnam with 6.85 million. Despite the famous “More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, the country still lags behind ASEAN neighbors in terms of having the most foreign tourist arrivals in the country.

However, in terms of big tourism spenders, Philippines is among the markets that recorded a substantial growth along with other eleven countries: Norway, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Malaysia, Kuwait, Poland, Thailand, Qatar, Ukraine, Egypt and Cambodia. The country’s inbound tourism expenditure still posted a significant increase probably because most tourists find prices of commodities cheap or relatively affordable. And although, the Department of Tourism (DOT) missed its 4.6 million - tourism target in 2012, the visitor arrivals from the first 5 months of 2013 increased by 10.54%, which amounts to 2.01 million compared to the 1.82 million arrivals in the first 5 months of 2012.

Philippines still continues to attract millions of tourists around the world due to its tropical climate, natural structure and varied coastal features. The Tourism Industry has truly made several improvements over the last decade. But as it had lagged behind its ASEAN members in 2012, this just shows that foreign tourists still hold certain doubts when visiting the country and this must be carefully addressed by the government. One of the reasons why the country had fewer numbers of foreign arrivals compared with other ASEAN countries could be because of the lack of awareness or the negative image perceived by other foreign countries. Oftentimes, media reveals bad publicity that emphasizes certain social issues related to crimes, poverty and corruption within the country.

The Tourism industry could further conduct projects that would resolve these problems and contribute to the country’s positive image and development. This would eventually bring more tourist arrivals and assure them of their safe and pleasurable stay in the country. Recently, the Tourism sector has made several developments in the establishment of infrastructures, the construction of airports and terminals which makes it more accessible for the tourists to travel around various places in the country. With this type of improvements, a positive effect occurred as reflected in the increasing gains during the first five months of 2013. Still, the industry has to make further steps in planning and innovating so as to convince the tourists that it is indeed “More Fun in the Philippines”.


Jose Vincent Lubat
Sarah Mar Reyes
Rosemary Sia
Thea Fabay

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