Tourism growth shows Philippines appeal as travelers’ ‘destination of choice’

2024 June 19

PICTURESQUE. Visitors enjoy the boat tour offered at Lake Sebu in South Cotabato on June 6, 2024. The Philippine Statistics Authority said the tourism sector has contributed 8.6 percent to the Philippine economy as measured by the gross domestic product in 2023.

MANILA – The tourism industry’s growth in 2023 is an indication that the Philippines is fast becoming a “destination of choice” to both foreign and domestic tourists post-pandemic, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

In its latest data released on June 18, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the tourism sector has contributed 8.6 percent to the Philippine economy as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023.

The industry also generated and sustained 6.21 million employment for Filipinos in the same year, almost breaching the DOT’s target tourism employment of 6.3 million by 2028.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said this growth reflects the Marcos administration’s “strong emphasis” on prioritizing the sector.

“The results of the PSA report clearly show the enthusiasm of our fellow Filipinos in exploring and experiencing the beauty of our own country, and their profound love for the Philippines,” Frasco said Wednesday.

“It reflects the strong desire to support local businesses, contribute to the growth of our economy, and demonstrate the increasing appeal of the Philippines as a destination of choice for both international visitors and our fellow Filipinos abroad,” she said.

The Tourism Direct Gross Value Added (TDGVA) amounted to PHP2.09 trillion in 2023, the highest since the PSA began compiling the data in 2000.

The figures are higher by 47.9 percent compared with the PHP1.41 trillion TDGVA in 2022 when it recorded a 6.4 percent contribution to the GDP.

The TDGVA refers to the gross value added by tourism industries and other industries of the economy that directly serve visitors.

The PSA said domestic tourism expenditure grew by 72.3 percent, from PHP1.55 trillion in 2022 to PHP2.67 trillion in 2023.

Among forms of tourism expenditures, inbound tourism expenditure, which refers to the expenditure of non-resident visitors within the Philippines, such as foreign visitors and Filipinos permanently residing abroad, posted PHP697.46 billion in 2023.

This is the highest to date and registered an 87.7 percent growth from PHP371.58 billion recorded in 2022, which was also higher than the pre-pandemic figures of PHP600.01 billion in 2019.

Outbound tourism expenditure, on the other hand, posted a 10 percent growth rate, from PHP189.29 billion in 2022 to PHP208.25 billion in 2023.

Internal tourism expenditure, comprising inbound and domestic tourism expenditure, grew by 75.3 percent, from PHP1.92 trillion in 2022 to PHP3.36 trillion in 2023.

Frasco said the “new initiatives” as well as the “continuing yet innovative approaches” made by the DOT in the past two years had been effective in attracting visitors and improving the overall experience for visitors.

Over the past years, the DOT initiated the construction of Tourist Rest Areas (TRA) across strategic locations, launched the Philippine Experience Program (PEP) primarily to highlight emerging destinations and offerings, and opened the Tourist Assistance Call Center to accommodate all travel-related concerns.

It also financed the “Tourism Champions Challenge” to foster countrywide development of sustainable and resilient tourism infrastructure, among others.

Under the Marcos administration, the DOT also strengthened the development of the country’s various tourism offerings from gastronomy, dive, film, golf, history, culture, and heritage, medical, as well as the English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

The collaboration with the public and private sectors, especially the local government units, was also given priority to make tourism in the Philippines more inclusive, the DOT said.

“We will continue to focus on implementing strategic and innovative initiatives to enhance tourism infrastructure, improve visitor experiences, expand tourism development, and create more employment opportunities,” Frasco said. 

Joyce Ann L. Rocamora (PNA)