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Tourist arrivals up by 5.9% in Jan-Feb 2019 Date: April 10, 2019
Foreign tourist arrivals to the country continue to increase, with 5.9 percent growth in the first two months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

"For the first two months, tourist arrivals have been 1,493,000 precise," Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told reporters during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday.

Puyat attributed the growth to the country's improved access and air connectivity, particularly with the opening of the Mactan-Cebu Airport and the Bohol-Panglao Airport last year.

"It's better now, but of course we are continually working with the Department of Transportation on rehabilitating the airports and maybe having night-rated airports," she said.

According to DOT data, January arrivals decreased from 732,506 visitors to 723,390 in 2019. But the 13.8 percent growth of international visitors in February 2019 was able to offset the slight arrival drop from the preceding month.

Romulo-Puyat said South Korea, followed by China and the United States, remain as the top three tourist markets of the country.

The DOT did not issue a projection of arrivals for the summer season but it assured the government is ready and closely coordinates with different local government units (LGUs) in securing the safety and welfare of foreign and local visitors.

"We already issued an order to our regional officers to closely coordinate with LGUs in setting up emergency care system and facilities in tourist destinations in time for the summer season," DOT Assistant Secretary Maria Rica Bueno said in the same press conference.

Bueno cited as example Siargao, where the provincial governor has directed municipal mayors to place doctors and nurses in their respective areas.

Among others, solid waste monitors and tourist assistance centers were also established in each municipality, including the renowned Siargao Island.

"Similarly, these are also being done in other tourist areas like our Bicol office which issued an advisory with regard to the preparations for the summer season, especially for Holy Week next week," she said. (PNA)

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