MANILA — For the first half of 2019, a total of 4,133,050 international tourists visited the Philippines, marking an 11.43 percent increase from last year’s figures, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

“We have already reached the 4 million mark within the first 6 months of the year. Seven years ago, it took the entire year to reach 4 million tourists. The Philippine tourism industry has indeed come a long way with better and increased connectivity. New, rehabilitated and expanded airports have contributed much to this growth,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

“By expanding our portfolio of tourism products and by developing and promoting our lesser-known but emerging destinations, we have attracted a large yet diverse set of foreign travellers and have sustained our growth in the highly-competitive South East Asian region,” she added.

MORE TOURISTS, MORE FUN. Tourists stroll along Boracay’s beach. The Department of Tourism recorded a 11.43 percent increase in international tourist arrivals for the first half of 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018. (PNA file photo)

For the month of June 2019, tourist arrivals reached a growth rate of 21.41 percent at 643,780 arrivals versus the 530,267 in June 2018.

South Korea continues to be the top source market, with China coming in second. The United States ranks third, followed by Japan and then Taiwan, winding up the top 5 source markets.

The DOT also welcomed the US Homeland Security’s decision to lift its public notice on travel to NAIA following the “significant improvements” in the airport’s security operations.

“With the recent development of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind its Public Advisory on security issues at NAIA, we can expect more travelers from the US to visit the Philippines in the coming months,” Puyat said. (DOT PR)