MANILA, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese topped the list of foreign tourists who flocked to the Philippines' premier island-beach resort Boracay in the central Philippines during the first two months of 2019, data from the Malay Municipal Tourism Office showed on Tuesday.
Tourism officer Nelia Gumboc told Xinhua in a telephone interview that from January to February, 107,164 Chinese tourists visited the island off Alkan province famous for beaches with unsullied fine talcum powder-sand beaches, sapphire seas and spectacular sunsets.
Chinese tourists comprised 49 percent of total 340,309 foreign visitors on the island, lower than the 375,993 that visited the island during the same period in 2018.
The temporary six-month closure of Boracay last year to make way for a massive clean up of the island and the limit imposed by the government on the number of visitors allowed to the island led to the decline of visitors this year.
However, the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is optimistic that more tourists will visit the island in the coming months after the clean up to see the gentle coastlines and magnificent sunsets.
South Korean tourists came in the second with 68,453, according to Gumboc. Americans are the third highest source market with 5,502, she added.
For February alone, Gumboc said Chinese tourists tallied 59,768 arrivals and South Koreans with 34,466.
A total of 1,255,258 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines in 2018, DOT data showed.
The Duterte government is banking on Chinese tourists to visit not only Boracay but other beaches as well, including Siargao in the southern Philippines, Iloilo in the central Philippines, Palawan, La Union in the northern Philippines, Romblon and Siquijor also in the central Philippines, among others.
Philippine tourism stakeholders vowed to improve infrastructure and services in key tourism sites frequented by Chinese tourists. They recently urged the government to relax visa requirements for the Chinese in a bid to lure more Chinese tourists into the Philippines.