MANILA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- A total of 1,359,817 tourists from Chinese mainland have visited the Philippines from January to September this year, second only to that of South Korea, figures from the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Friday.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the Philippine tourism industry "remains in a sweet spot as the country's inbound visitor count continues to see an upward trend, surpassing the six million mark at the end of September 2019."
According to the latest DOT data, the Philippines received a total of 6,161,503 visitors from January to September 2019, indicating a 14.37 percent increase from the 5,387,458 arrivals for the same period last year.
The DOT said a total of 606,553 visitor arrivals were recorded for September alone, which it says is still widely considered a lean month in the Philippines in terms of tourism. "This number poses a double-digit growth of 17.09 percent compared to the 518,041 visitor count for September 2018," the DOT said.
"The figures look very promising, and we are glad that more tourists are visiting us in light of the accolades received by the Philippines and our destinations throughout the year," Puyat said.
Data from the DOT monthly report for September also showed a positive year-on-year arrival growth for eight of the top ten visitor markets for the Philippines.
For the first nine months, South Korea still tops the list with a total of 1,450,792 arrivals, followed by China with 1,359,817.
The United States is third with 792,619 visitor arrivals for the nine-month period. Japan, which overtook the U.S. last month based on market share, remained fourth in the list with 518,211 arrivals, followed by China's Taiwan, with a record of 252,578 arrivals.
The DOT said it is pleased with the recent recognitions given to the Philippines this year as the 8th spot on the 20 most favorite countries in the World of the Conde Nast Traveler (CNT) Readers' Choice Awards, where the Philippines earned a 90.63 score among the 600,000 readers of the New York-based luxury and travel magazine.
Moreover, the DOT said the Philippines was also hailed as Asia's Leading Dive Destination by the prestigious 2019 World Travel Awards (WTA) in its Asia and Oceania gala held last October in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.
Subsequently, DOT was awarded as Asia's Leading Tourism Board by WTA in the same event for the significant increase in tourist arrivals for the Philippines in 2018.
The Japan Tourism Awards (JTA) also presented DOT with its Excellent Partner Award for the agency's crucial role in the closure and successful rehabilitation of the tourist-favorite Boracay Island. The award was received at the opening of the Tourism Expo Japan (TEJ) last month.
"While these awards prove prudence in our efforts to bolster Philippine tourism, ultimately, what keeps us doing what we do in the DOT is seeing more of our countrymen revel in the positive impacts of genuine sustainable tourism," Puyat said.
The Philippines is hoping to reach its target of 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, a 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.
The DOT said a total of 1,255,258 tourists from the Chinese mainland visited the Philippines in 2018, the most improved market at an impressive 29.62 percent growth rate.
Tourism industries contributed 12.7 percent to the Philippine economy in 2018, the Philippines Statistics Authority said.