Tourist arrivals to Philippines rise 14 percent in first five months of 2017

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The third largest market is visitors from China, with 73,649 of its nationals visiting the Philippines in January to May. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — International tourist arrivals to the Philippines rose more than 14 percent in the same period a year ago to 2.8 million visitors from January to May 2017, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said Tuesday.

Foreign arrivals in 2017 totaled 2,882,737 as of May 2017, the DOT said in a statement.

DOT Secretary Wanda Teo said the "record-breaking numbers, which began during the Miss Universe month, clearly indicates a bright outlook for Philippine tourism."

Teo attributed the visitor arrivals to international events such as the Miss Universe pageant held in the country on January, and the gastronomic event Madrid Fusion in April, as well as to aggressive marketing efforts by the tourism department in the last 12 months.

South Korea remained the country's top tourism market, with over 128,691 visitors from January to May 2017. The United States was a far second with 83,056 visitors in the country.

The third largest market is visitors from China, which also saw the biggest jump of 57.3 to 73,649 of its nationals visiting the Philippines in January to May, compared to the same period a year ago.

Chinese President Xi Jinping lifted travel advisories against visits to the Philippines following President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China last October.

Tourist arrivals in the period of January to May were highest in January at 631,639 visitors, while it was less by almost a hundred thousand to 532,757 in May, the figures showed.

"The DOT will continue to tap new and emerging markets  little known tourist destinations and sites which are priority growth areas for tourism development," Teo said.

She expressed confidence that the visitor arrivals would break last year's 5.9 million record.

Sectors of the Philippine travel industry have reported cancellations and a drop in visitors following the outbreak of fighting in Marawi city on May 23 and travel advisories from governments such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia warning their nationals against visiting certain areas of the Philippines.