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Philippine local tourism up 38% in 2021, says DOT

The Philippines’ local tourism industry rebounded in 2021 as the demand for domestic travel soared amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Based on the 2021 Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts (PTSA), domestic trips in the country totaled 37,279,282, or 38.16% higher than 2020’s 26,982,233.

Employment in the tourism sector also increased to around 4.9 million individuals in 2021, a 4.6% growth from the recorded 4.7M in 2020, the DOT said, adding this accounted for 11.1% of the total employment in the country.

The DOT attributed the industry’s growth to the “collaborative efforts of the national and local government units (LGUs) to standardize health and safety protocols, reinforced by the active participation of tourism stakeholders from the private sector.”

“PTSA reports have been a critical tool in helping the DOT develop the tourism sector as a significant socio-economic activity, generate foreign exchange, employment, and information dissemination on the importance and benefit of the tourism sector for both private and public sectors,” DOT OIC Edwin Enrile said in his speech during a joint forum of the tourism agency with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday.

“Armed with this data and information, the DOT can further improve and refine its current plans and programs, learn from its weaknesses, and pinpoint where our strengths and opportunities lie amidst the pandemic,” he said.

Meanwhile, the DOT said the Philippines reported a decline in foreign visitor arrivals last year due to the closure of the country’s borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DOT said the country recorded a total of 163,879 visitors from January to December 2021, a decline of 88.95% from the 2020 arrivals of 1,482,535.

The United States dominated the top visitor markets of the country with 39,326 arrivals, followed by Japan with 15,024; China with 9,674; India with 7,202; Canada with 6,781; and Korea with 6,456.

As the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport highest air arrivals with 142,448 or 86.92 percent It was followed by the Mactan-Cebu International Airport with 11,119 or 6.78 percent and the Clark International Airport with 9,964 or 6.08 percent of arrivals.

Tourist receipts in 2021 were posted at around P8.49-billion — 89.67% lower than the visitor spending of P82.24B recorded in the same period in 2020.

Guests mostly visited the Philippines for holiday and leisure with a total of 15.99% purpose of visit. Business trips accounted for 8.11 percent while incentive travels were at 2.66%.

The Tourism Satellite Account is a standard statistical framework and the main tool for the economic measurement of tourism, developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, among other statistical organizations, which allows the measurement of the contribution of tourism industries to the Philippine economy. —Sundy Locus/KBK, GMA News