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An ‘all-time high’ in tourism arrivals

THOSE who may have been worried that the closure of Boracay to tourists in April would affect Philippine tourism should be reassured by the report of the Department of Tourism (DoT) that tourist arrivals in the first half of this year have reached an “all-time high.”

“From January to June, tourist visitors numbered 3,706,721, 10.4 percent more than the 3.357 million for the same period last year. The biggest numbers of foreign visitors were Koreans, 815,683; followed by mainland Chinese, 645,089; Americans, 557,833; Japanese, 316,060; Australians, 140,260; Canadians, 121,098; Taiwanese, 120,540; British, 102,443; Singaporeans, 91,736; Malaysians, 73,663; HongKongites, 69,995; and Indians, 63,089.

For this entire year, the DoT has a goal of 7.4 million tourists. This means it expects some 3.79 million more visitors in the next six months. Considering the many holidays between now and December, which normally bring in hundreds of thousands of balikbayans from the US, this goal should be well within reach. And with Boracay reopening in October, many foreign tourists who may have put off their visit to this famous tourist spot may just come in these remaining months of the year.

It is important to note that we did not hesitate to close down Boracay when we did, despite the expected losses in revenue, for it showed to the world that we value its natural resources and pristine beauty more than the economic benefits it was bringing to the country. Its closure has also been cited as a sign of President Duterte’s decisiveness in a situation which previous officials had allowed to fester. With its temporary closing, many visitors have discovered hundreds of other islands and beaches and waters all over our country

Last year, Boracay drew over a million of the total 6.6 million visitors who came in 2017. When it reopens in October, we are confident that many who have been there before will want to see it once again, along with many others who surely appreciate our readiness to close it down to stop the deterioration of its resources.

Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has done a commendable job of cleaning up Boracay and accomplishing it within the six months given him. And Secretary Bernadette Romnulo Puyat of the Department of Tourism has done very well in carrying on the country’s tourism program even without Boracay.

We look forward to our tourism program in the next six months of this year, a bright spot amid so many problems facing our country today.