MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday downplayed a recent report which listed the Philippines as the 11th most dangerous country for tourists as it pointed out the increasing number of tourist arrivals in the country.
The 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) released on April 5 showed that the Philippines was in the 126th spot among 136 countries in ensuring the safety of tourists.
However, in spite of the low score in security and safety, the Philippines is still on the 79th spot in the overall travel and tourism rankings.
“Well, you know, contrary to the WEF report, tourism businesses are exposed to security risks. In spite of that, foreign tourists continue to increase steadily. There are just hiccups every once in a while, but they continue to increase,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during a Palace briefing.
He said that latest data from the Department of Tourism confirms that tourist arrivals have increased in the first quarter of 2017 as compared to the same period last year.
“For example, visitor arrivals from January to March 2017 are 1.78 million, okay, compared to 1.6 million for the same period last year. Therefore an increase of about roughly 11 percent,” he pointed out.
The Palace official said the increase in arrivals could be attributed the growth to additional direct flights going to the country’s top tourist destinations.
“We can attribute this growth in arrivals to the 160,000 airline seats that have been added to this year with new direct flights connecting local secondary airports to China, South Korea — like Kalibo to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Zhengzhou or Cebu to Wuhan, Chongqing, and Chengdu and Clark to Incheon,” Abella said.
Further growth in tourism, he said, could also be expected due to the tourism deals that had been signed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte with China, Cambodia, Thailand and Turkey.
“We should be looking up, you know. We don’t really focus on critics. We focus on actual work and processes. And there really is an increase, it’s quite positive,” Abella said.