Philippines expect high tourism numbers despite Boracay closure
SOUTH KOREAN Ambassador to the Philippines, Han Dong-man, remains optimistic for high tourism numbers to the archipelagic nation, despite the closure of its holiday island Boracay.
In late April, armed forces were brought into to shuttle remaining tourists off the once pristine shores of Boracay.
Rapid development and over-tourism on the island were not matched with investment in tourism infrastructure, and authorities have taken drastic action.
Now, just over a month into the restoration project, Han has vowed to work to attract more than two million visitors to the nation with a major infrastructure boost.
“I promised him to bring two million tourists to the Philippines every year and increase tourist receipts from US$15 billion to US$20 billion,” Han said at the groundbreaking of Samar Pacific Coastal Road.
Boracay was a popular destination among South Koreans. In 2017, they were the second most frequent nation to visit the island after Chinese tourists.
In total South Koreans accounted for 1.6 million of the 6.6 million tourists the Philippines received last year.
Han is not alone in his aim for increased tourism to the nation.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), headed by Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is aiming to welcome 7.4 million arrivals in 2018.
According to Travel Weekly Asia, Romulo-Puyat is focusing the department’s efforts of promoting other beautiful islands such as Cebu, Bohol, and Siargao.
Last month Romulo-Puyat also told the Commission on Appointments she will “prioritize improving policies on access, connectivity, and security as well as enhance programs on tourism infrastructure.”
Currently, some governments, including the UK and US, have issued warnings on travel to the Phillippines.
They urge foreign visitors to exercise increased caution due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and a recent measles outbreak.
However, these warnings haven’t deterred Han’s optimistic spirit. “Every time I meet Korean businessmen I always tell them to invest, invest, invest in the Philippines to support President Duterte’s Build! Build! Build! Program,” he added.