Middle East tourists to the Philippines recorded an over 18 per cent growth during the first six months of 2011, compared to the same period last year, according to the country's tourism department.
The remarkable boost from the Middle East region was led by Saudi Arabia with 30 per cent. The UAE and Qatar also registered positive gains at 11 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.
The Philippines' Department of Tourism, or DOT, reported that nearly two million foreign tourists visited the country during the first half of the year.
"This is 12 per cent more than what we had from January to June last year. At this rate, we are looking to outperform our 3.52 million showing in 2010 and hit, if not surpass our 3.74 million target, especially as we forge ahead with our international promotion programs," DOT Secretary Alberto Lim said in a statement.
Growth in the leading East Asia regional market remained steady at 17.52 per cent with strong gains posted by Korea (429,569 visitors, up 28.76 per cent), China (105,423, up 16.85 per cent) and Taiwan's (84,979, up 35.81 per cent). Japan registered a modest climb of 5.66 per cent from last year to 181,379 arrivals. These four countries are among the Philippines' top five country markets in the region while the United States, with 338,020 visitors (up 6.57 per cent), rounds out the list in second place.
In June of this year alone, a total of 309,749 foreigners visited the Philippines. This figure is 12 per cent more than in the same month last year. It is the fourth out of six months this year to register double-digit growth from corresponding months in 2010.
In a bid to further boost tourism sector and attract more inbound tourists, the DOT is hosting the 11th Philippine Travel Exchange, or PHITEX 2011, until September 2 at the SMX Convention Centre.
"As one of the flagship projects of the Department for 11 years now, the Philippine Travel Exchange is a testament to the Philippines' continued success in communicating to the world of the country's tourism prowess," Lim said.