Philippines targets record tourist numbers in 2019

A view of Crystal Cove, a small island that attracts tourists island-hopping near Boracay. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 February 2019
0

Philippines targets record tourist numbers in 2019

  • Manila Bay is known for its world-famous sunsets, but over the years it has become one of Asia’s most polluted bays
  • The Department of Tourism is aiming for 8.2 million tourists this year

MANILA: The Philippine Department of Tourism has vowed to break the 2018 record for the number of foreign tourists visiting the country.

The Philippines welcomed 7,127,168 foreign visitors last year, and the department said it is aiming for 8.2 million this year. 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said the target is achievable because last year’s milestone occurred despite the closure of the country’s flagship destination and the department’s change of leadership.

“In creating a culture of sustainable tourism, we have had some challenges in instilling a paradigm shift in our popular spots where unsustainable practices have become the normal, day-to-day operations,” she told Arab News.

“But thankfully,” the rehabilitation of Boracay island “started a national movement to be more conscious of our environment,” she said.

This has inspired and empowered local communities to make their respective destinations cleaner and more sustainable, while the government focuses on preserving the biodiversity and capacity of tourist attractions, Puyat added. “This always equates to a better experience for our tourists,” she said.

Asked how the Department of Tourism plans to sustain growth, Puyat said: “We will go heavy in our marketing and promotions to sustain the growth of our key markets, while increasing awareness about our country’s beautiful destinations in emerging markets.”

This year, the department is hosting two major aviation events, Routes Asia and CAPA Asia Aviation, to explore new routes and development opportunities for smoother and faster travel to and from the country. 

This, Puyat said, is part of efforts to boost the Philippines’ bid to become an Asian aviation hub.

These upcoming events will showcase the newly developed Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and will bolster the country’s international networks and local tourism, she added. “It’s all systems go for these two major aviation events,” she said.

Through both events, the Philippine aviation industry looks forward to further capacity and infrastructure enhancements in the coming years, added Puyat.

Earlier this year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources led government efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay, similar to what was done in Boracay.

Manila Bay is known for its world-famous sunsets, but over the years it has become one of Asia’s most polluted bays. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu described it as a “magnified cesspool.”

To restore the bay’s pristine condition, the government in January launched a massive cleanup operation. 

Asked if the rehabilitation will help attract more visitors, Puyat said: “In fact it already is.” She added: “For the longest time, the bay’s beach area was filled with garbage. Now you can find quite a number of tourists.”


Russia ready to discuss nuclear treaty with China, US

Updated 26 April 2019
0

Russia ready to discuss nuclear treaty with China, US

  • An official said that Russia “would like to convince” the US to adopt a joint statement that would condemn any use of nuclear weapons
  • The comments come just months after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a cornerstone of the post-Cold War security

MOSCOW: A top Russian diplomat says Russia is willing to negotiate a new nuclear weapons treaty with the United States and China.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on Friday Moscow is closely following reports in the United States that the US would like to reach a nuclear weapons deal with both Russia and China, and is “willing” to negotiate. The story was reported by CNN earlier Friday.
Ryabkov also said that Russia “would like to convince” the US to adopt a joint statement that would condemn any use of nuclear weapons.
Ryabkov’s comments come just months after the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a cornerstone of the post-Cold War security, and Russia followed suit. Each claims breaches by the other.