DOT: Fewer tourists in CV in 1st half of 2017

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva December 08,2017 - 10:41 AM

Tourists arrive at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in this April 5, 2017 photo.

Central Visayas saw fewer visiting tourists during the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, with the region still recovering from the aftermath of terrorist activities in Bohol earlier this year.

According to preliminary data from the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7), 2.98 million visitors came to the region between January to June 2017, down by 3.85 percent from the 3.10 million arrivals recorded during the first six months of 2016.

“The 3.85-percent drop may be attributed to what happened earlier this year, but it may also be due to incomplete reports from provincial tourism offices” DOT-7 Director Joshur Judd Lanete II told Cebu Daily News in a text message.

Nonetheless, Lanete said they are still looking forward to an increase in the number of tourist arrivals when the final figures for 2017 are completed in the first quarter of 2018.

He said that they have rallied the support of their partners for complete and consistent reports as feedback from accommodation establishments would indicate positive occupancy rates.

Misleading data

Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operations Specialists (Catos), agreed that the data from DOT is rather “misleading” and “incomplete.”

Queblatin said there is a problem in the collection of data from hotels and other accommodation establishments, adding that 65 percent of these have not submitted their reports when the figures were made.

“Usually, hotels submit their reports at the end of the year when business permits are processed. I’m sure the figure will change as soon as the rest of the hotels will give their reports,” Queblatin said.

Of the 2.98 million tourists who visited Central Visayas, 2.25 million came to Cebu, followed by 400,905 in Negros Oriental, 285,484 in Bohol and 54,353 in Siquijor.

Top 5 market

The region’s top five foreign markets in terms of tourist volume for the covered period are Korea (402,858), Japan (183,644), China (171,197), USA (106,075) and Australia (32,396).

Arrivals from Korea, Japan and China posted positive growth at 2.31 percent, 2.82 percent and 55.54 percent, respectively.

The number of visitors from the US and Australia, meanwhile, dropped by 4.26 percent and 64.14 percent, respectively.

Among the top 10 foreign markets, the number of Taiwanese visitors accelerated the fastest at 64.14 percent while the number of Canadian tourists decelerated the fastest at 12.19 percent.

To recall, it was mostly western countries that issued several travel advisories during the latter part of 2016, warning citizens to avoid traveling to southern Philippines, particularly Cebu due to threats of kidnapping and terrorist activities.

It wasn’t long after, in April, when members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group infiltrated Inabanga town in Bohol but were soon neutralized by government forces.


Edilberto Mendoza, Catos past president, said the region’s and the country’s tourism industry has faced a lot of challenges in the first six months of the year.

Among these were the crisis in Marawi City, the government’s bloody war on illegal drugs, and political clashes, to name a few, he said.

“I saw these as some of the many reasons for the drop. However, this may change in the remaining half of the year as the government is also doing its best to invite more visitors to come with the opening of more flights to the country,” Mendoza said.

Despite these setbacks, Cebu, which is at the center of the region, in October, was recognized by New York-based travel magazine Condé Nast as the second best island in the world.

Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito Costas had earlier urged industry stakeholders to innovate as well as create more unique and meaningful tourism destinations.

Public assured

Other tourism players have constantly assured the public that Cebu is a safe place to visit and that they are no longer fazed by travel advisories issued by foreign governments.

Visitor arrivals usually peak during the covered period, but earlier events were seen to have pulled down the numbers.

DOT-7 recorded 5.95 percent arrivals last year and targets a five-percent increase this year, which could have been higher if not for the circumstances that occurred during the first quarter of 2017.

The DOT said in an earlier statement that it was optimistic that the upward growth of the country’s international tourist arrivals, recorded at 11.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, will likely continue throughout the year as it anticipates over P600 billion in infrastructure projects alongside aggressive marketing efforts and heightened security all over the Philippines.

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TAGS: 2017, CV, DOT, Fewer, half, tourist
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