Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - A grand total of 4,272,811 tourists visited the Philippines in 2012, the first time the foreign visitor mark breached four million.
Despite the all-time high, however, the number still fell short of the Department of Tourism's target of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for the year.
"Some shortfalls were felt due to economic and political pressures (in the) traditional markets such as the United States, Europe and China," said the DOT in a statement.
Although the target was missed, the DOT said the figure was a 9.07-per cent increase over the 3,917,454 visitors in 2011.
"Crossing the four-million mark is a feat in itself and puts us well on track to achieve our ultimate goal of 10 million visitor arrivals by 2016," said Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez in a statement.
"Despite a few bumps on the road, all key source markets still registered positive growth for the year," he added.
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Jimenez though admitted it was going to become increasingly challenging to meet future targets.
"But we know that Filipinos are the biggest believers of our slogan, 'It's more fun in the Philippines.' We remain confident and will continue to build on the positive energies in order to cross the five-million milestone in 2013," he said.
Jimenez said the DOT's thrust this year is market development, which entails expanding the potential market for new users and new uses.
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"We will look into segments that we have not thoroughly explored. We will explore more creative executions geared toward sustaining the fun we have started. We hope to have stronger representation and be part of the future of tourism in Asia," he said.
South Korea remains our biggest source of tourists, with 1,031,155 visitors coming from that nation alone last year, the DOT said.
They were followed by visitors from the United States at 625,626 and Japan with 412,474 tourists. Overseas Filipinos numbered 215,943 arrivals, or 5.05 per cent of the total tourist traffic, exhibiting a steady growth rate of 4.24 per cent.