Philippine President optimistic of higher tourist arrivals this year


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III prepares to make the ceremonial ringing of the bell to start the trading at the Philippine Stocks Exchange at the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday March 6, 2012. <File photo: AP/Newsis>

MANILA (Xinhua) — Philippine President Beningo S. Aquino III said on Tuesday that government might surpass the target visitor arrivals in the country for this year.

Aquino, in his speech at the Philippine Investment Forum, urged businessmen to invest in the tourism sector since this is one of the sectors that will have the largest impact on the economy.

He said in January alone, the Philippines welcomed more than 400,000 visitors. This is the highest monthly visitor count in the country’s history.

“And if we can sustain this, we are set to welcome almost 4.8 million visitors this year. This is really close to five million,” he said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing 4.6 million tourist arrivals in the country for this year.

“We are still quite a way from our target of 10 million yearly visitors by 2016. But imagine: two years ago we were expecting only about three million visitors a year; and now there is the possibility of welcoming five million,” Aquino said.

“We still have four years and three months left to reach our target and we know that, each year, we can grow our number of visitors closer and closer to our goal,” he added.

The DOT has been aggressively promoting the country with the recent launching of campaign slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” and partnering with other government agencies to make the country safer and better haven for tourists.

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