Despite Boracay closure, Philippines gets more tourists
Photo: Subterrenean River in Palawan (DOT)

MANILA -- Despite the temporary closure of the popular Boracay island last May , the Department of Tourism (DOT) reported Thursday that Tourist arrivals in the country in the first seven months of the year increased by 9.74 percent to 4.3 million visitors compared to 3.92 million in the same period last year.

In July alone, the DOT said visitors tallied 601,322, posting a growth rate of 5.86 percent from the 568,035 recorded in July 2017.

In data obtained by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), South Koreans totaled 937,227 from January to July 2018. Chinese nationals came in second with 764,094 tourists. China remains a fast-growing market with a 40.01 percent growth rate compared to its 545,725 tourists last year.

On the other hand, visitors from the US and Japan reached 649,496 and 366,649, respectively. Australia, the fifth source market of the country, had a total of 161,077 tourists for the same period.

It will be recalled that the Philippine government issued a temporary closure of the world famous tourist island amid reports of high pollution levels in the waters frequented by tourists. Reports indicate that the island will reopen on October 26 after the installation of better pollution control measures and a rehabilitation of the island`s road system.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette-Romulo Puyat described the steady increase as a positive reflection of the "brighter" future of the Philippine tourism industry.

“With the challenges and hurdles the industry is facing, maintaining the positive trajectory of visitor arrivals is not an easy feat, but the industry has kept itself afloat," Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

She expressed optimism the agency would reach the government`s target of 7.4 million arrivals for 2018.

"With the roll-out of a comprehensive branding campaign in the coming months and the scheduled reopening of a better Boracay on Oct. 26, we are optimistic that we will hit, or better yet, surpass our target of 7.4 million for 2018," she said. ( with reports from PNA)