The tourism industry has an important role in economies and societies, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, citing the sector contributed P2.09 trillion to the Philippine economy in 2023.

At the 36th Joint Meeting of the UN Tourism Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UN Tourism Commission for South Asia in Cebu City, Marcos Jr. said that last year’s share of Tourism Direct Gross Value Added was the highest since 2000.

The figure is 48 percent higher than the tourism’s contribution of P1.41 trillion to the economy in 2022. It also represents 8.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Department of Tourism exceeded its 2023 tourist arrival target of 4.8 million after recording 5.45 million international tourists, according to the President.

Foreign tourist arrivals, he noted, totaled 2.9 million from January to March 2024, accounting for 38.1 percent of the 7.7 million tourist arrival target for the year. 

“These highlight the robust recovery and continued appeal of our country as a top travel destination. But going beyond monetary values and numbers, these figures also mean millions of lives being changed for the better.”

Meanwhile, Marcos Jr. expressed hope that the joint meeting will lead to better practices and increased tourism arrivals in the Philippines and around the world.

“I am very, very optimistic that your meetings will be a platform for collaboration, for discourse, and the sharing of best practices on such crucial topics for this sector as we prepare for the activities leading up to the World Tourism Day of 2024,” he said.

The Chief Executive furthered, “Let us continue to use our cultural capital to connect and sample experiences and flavors that are profound and transformative.”IMT