PHILIPPINE tourism has been in the news lately, highlighted by reports that plans are well underway for the holding of Miss Universe 2017 in Manila in January, 2017. The first time Miss Universe was held in Manila was in 1974, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, followed 20 years later in 1994 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
The Department of Tourism, headed by new Secretary Wanda Teo, has also reported good news on tourist arrivals in the country which reached 2.9 million foreign visitors for the six-month period from January to June this year. This is 13 percent higher than the figure for the same period in 2015. The top five sources of foreign visitors were South Korea, the United States, Japan, China, and Australia.
Still there is much to be done to bring the number of tourist arrivals closer to the record numbers in our Asian neighbors. China today leads tourist arrivals in Asia with 56.9 million so far in 2015, followed by Thailand, 29.9 million; Hong Kong, 26.7 million; Malaysia, 25.7 million; and Japan, 19.7 million. Among our fellow ASEAN nations, we are behind Singapore with its 12.1 million visitors in 2015; Taiwan, 10.4 million; Indonesia, 10.4 million; and Vietnam, 7.9 million.
At the start of the new administration, the Department of Tourism said it is now considering replacing “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” with a more appealing slogan, one that reflect the aura of change in the country. The target for the whole of 2016 is six million foreign and local tourists. With a new marketing slogan, the DoT may be inspired to boost its efforts so that tourism can become a principal pillar of the Philippine economy.
The forthcoming Miss Universe pageant should be a major boost to our tourism program. It is one of the world’s four top international beauty pageants. We have won it three times, Miss World once, Miss International five times, and Miss Earth three times. Only Venezuela has won more crowns in these four pageants than the Philippines.
As in all recent competitions, Philippine beauties will be competing for the title in the coming Miss Universe pageant. But even without a win, our hosting it will draw the world’s attention to our country, our people, the beauty of our islands, and our rich history. Truly, we can all look forward to a great future for Philippine tourism.