MANILA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- A total of 1,209,312 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines from January to August this year, nearing the total of 1,255,258 Chinese tourists visiting the country for the whole year of 2018, figures from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed on Sunday.
The DOT said international visitor arrivals in the Philippines surged past the five million mark in August this year, boding bright prospects of attaining the tourism industry targets going into the last quarter of 2019.
According to the DOT, inbound foreign guests reached 5,554,950 for the period of January to August this year, indicating a 14.08 percent increase from the 4,869,417 tourists recorded during the same period of 2018.
For the month of August alone, the DOT said a total of 702,843 foreign tourists arrived in this country famous for pristine and powdery white sand beaches. This number is 27.54 percent higher than the 551,088 arrivals in August last year.
The DOT monthly report showed South Korea registering 185,334 visitors in August, regaining the top post for the country's tourist markets followed by China, which recorded 170,903 in the same period.
The DOT said Japan's 78,699 tourists took the third spot, overtaking the United States, which accounted for 68,418 tourists in the month of August.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat expressed appreciation for the support of tourism industry stakeholders in the private sector as well as the local government units in the implementation of the government's sustainable development program throughout the country.
"This is very encouraging even as we await the completion of the statistics gathered for the month of September," Puyat said in a statement.
The Philippines is hoping to reach its target of 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, one million higher than 2018.
The DOT said a total of 7,127,168 foreign tourists visited the Philippines in 2018, tallying the highest ever number in the country's tourism industry. The improvement came at a 7.65 percent growth rate compared to the 6,620,908 recorded in 2017.
Tourism industries contributed 12.7 percent to the Philippine economy in 2018, the Philippines Statistics Authority said.