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Visitor arrivals expected to approach pre-pandemic levels in 2023

THE Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is expecting international visitor arrivals in 2023 to approach pre-pandemic levels if no further global disruptions materialize.

Michelle G. Taylan, chair of the PTAA 30th Travel Tour Expo 2023, told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a briefing in Quezon City on Tuesday that the group projects international visitor arrivals of about 7 million this year.

In 2019, the Philippines admitted 8.26 million international visitors, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT).

“I am very positive since with all the developments like continuous increase in travel spending, especially with the reopening of countries like China, Japan, and Korea, I think we can record more or less 7 million tourist arrivals, nearing pre-pandemic levels,” Ms. Taylan said.

The DoT’s own target for international visitors this year is at least 4.8 million. The Philippines did away with most of its pandemic-related border restrictions in February 2022, resulting in 2.65 million international arrivals last year.

“Our tourism stakeholders… keep on promoting the Philippines. The Tourism Promotions Board and the DoT are joining international events and expos. The effort (helps) travel agencies, to sell our various destinations,” Ms. Taylan said.

“I am confident since we are more than ready to assist and to give the best service to our foreign tourist arrivals, with the support of the government especially in terms of safety,” Ms. Taylan said.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said in its latest World Tourism Barometer that the reopening of other Asian markets and destinations, including China, will aid in the recovery of international tourism in 2023.

“International tourism is expected to consolidate its recovery in 2023, backed by pent-up demand, particularly in Asia-Pacific (APAC) region,” the UNWTO said.

“The recent reopening of several Asian source markets and destinations will contribute to consolidating the recovery in 2023. The removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions in China, the world’s largest outbound market in 2019, is a significant and much welcomed step to the recovery of the tourism sector in APAC and worldwide,” it added.

According to the UNWTO, international tourist arrivals are projected to hit 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023. It estimated that over 900 million tourists traveled internationally in 2022, down 37% from 2019 levels.

Ms. Taylan said the PTAA will stage the 30th Travel Tour Expo 2023 and the 8th International Travel Trade Expo at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City between Feb. 3 and 5.

She said the PTAA is targeting foot traffic of 80,000 to 100,000 during the three-day event, which is anticipated by consumers because of the travel deals on offer. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave