MANILA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said on Tuesday that a total of 764,094 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines during the first seven months of 2018, making China the second-biggest source market for Philippines' international tourists.
Puyat said foreign tourist arrivals increased by 11.3 percent for the first seven months of 2018 despite the shutting down of world-class resort Boracay in April to make way for a massive clean-up in the island.
Boracay is a premier tourists drawer. Known for its clear water and powdery sand, Boracay is a favorite among the Chinese tourists.
"I was very worried because of the closure of Boracay, that's why I was surprised with the figure from the Philippine Statistics Authority (showing) that despite the closure of Boracay, tourism arrivals increased," Puyat said during a forum hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Puyat said that South Korean nationals ranked the first in the highest number of tourist arrivals in the country from January to July with a 21.76-percent share.
Data from the Department of Tourism showed that the number of South Korean nationals that visited the Philippines has so far this year spiked to 937,227.
This data was 10,000 higher from the South Koreans who arrived in the country in the same period of 2017, numbering 927,227.
China comes the second with 764,094 tourist arrivals and the United States with 649,496 visitors. China and the United States have 17.74 and 15.08 percentage shares, respectively.
Indeed, Puyat said, that arrivals remained high despite the Boracay closure. In a way, she said the closure led to the discovery of other tourist destinations in the country.
She said tourists visited other "alternative destinations" like Cebu, Bohol, Palawan, Bicol, even Siargao in southern Philippines.
Puyat expressed optimism that the government will still hit its year-end arrivals target of 7.4 million.