Philippines tourist arrivals hit record 3.14 mln in 2008


MANILA — Tourist arrivals in the Philippines rose by 1.5 percent to a record 3.14 million in 2008, despite the global financial crisis, the Tourism Department said Wednesday.

It attributed the rise partly to a big increase in arrivals from European markets such as Russia, up 34 percent in 2008, and France, up 18.7 percent.

The department also cited the opening of chartered flights from Shanghai, Nanning, Guangzhou and Kunming in China, as well as Taipei and Kaohsiung, for bringing more visitors from China and Taiwan.

South Korea topped the number of arrivals with 611,629 in 2008, up 19.48 percent from the 2007 figure, while the US was second with 578,246 arrivals, up 18.4 percent, the department said in a statement.

It said the global economic crisis would likely lead to a contraction in overseas tourism worldwide and forecast that the rise in tourist arrivals in the Philippines this year would range from zero to 1.9 percent, “depending on the recovery of key source markets”.

Tourism accounts for 6.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).