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Tourist arrivals reached a record high of 3.92 million last year, propelled mainly by visitors from Korea, the United States, and Japan.
Data from the Department of Tourism showed that Korean travelers accounted for almost 24 percent of last year's volume, or 925,204 arrivals; followed by visitors from the US at 16 percent or 624,527 arrivals; and the Japanese at 10 percent or 375,496 visitors.
On a regional basis, East Asia was last year's major source of tourist arrivals at 1.84 million or almost 47 percent total visitors in 2011.
"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," said DOT Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez Jr. in a press statement.
In January, the DOT launched its "It's more fun in the Philippines" brand campaign, which went viral via social networking sites. The actual campaign rollout in major target markets using traditional media such as billboards, posters, and TV commercials, is supposed to commence in April this year.
Jimenez was also quick to give credit to efforts by his predecessor Alberto Lim to attract more tourists to the country. "Even before the new campaign was launched, the initiatives taken by former Tourism Secretary Albert Lim during his tenure have likewise contributed to this milestone."
Last year's arrivals were 11.3 percent higher than the 3.52 million recorded in 2010, and exceeds the DOT’s 3.7-million target for 2011.
The DOT said bulk of the tourists at 394,567, arrived in December, the usual month overseas Filipinos return to the country for their Christmas family reunions. Overseas Filipinos contributed 207,152 to the full-year figure.
Jimenez expressed confidence that with the full rollout of the international brand campaign by April, another record-breaking year would be achieved in 2012. "Our marketing resource has grown exponentially because of other people’s contributions in kind. We will continue to build on these positive energies to attract 4.2 million this year."
Other major tourist markets last year were: China, which accounted for 243,137 arrivals, representing 6.21 percent of market share; followed by Taiwan at 181,738 (4.64 percent); and Australia at 170,736 (4.4 percent).
DOT Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon told InterAksyon.com that Chinese travelers were raring to visit other parts of the country, other than Metro Manila. "In 2011, we had 40,804 Chinese tourists on board charter flights [going straight to the resorts]. The largest number came on Shanghai-Boracay flights."
The DOT also noted huge increases in arrivals from emerging markets like India (24 percent to 42,844 visitors) and Russia (38 percent to 20,185 visitors), while the Middle East market also remained strong, posting a 14.6 percent jump in arrivals at 55,829.
Philippine and Indian carriers last year launched direct flights between Manila and New Delhi.
Singapore and Malaysia contributed 331,672 visitors from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) market, while visitors from Northern and Western Europe posted modest growths to reach 164,205 and 157,265 arrivals, respectively.
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