Growing Tourism Industry in the Philippines Highlighted in SONA

The current status of the tourism industry in the Philippines was one of the many topics that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III talked about during the hour and a half long State of the Nation Address he delivered this afternoon. Out of all the topics that President Aquino may discuss during the SONA, this was one of the main things that I was waiting to hear. With exhaustive efforts towards the It’s More Fun in the Philippines tourism campaign launched by the Department of Tourism (DoT), I was curious on how it is faring compared to the other tourism campaigns launched by the previous administrations.

A Booming Tourism Industry in the Philippines

President Aquino praised DoT Secretary Mon Jimenez for the impressive growth of the tourism industry in the Philippines. In his State of the Nation Address, the President pointed to the number of tourists visiting the Philippines as evidence of the continuing growth of the tourism industry:

Consider this: In 2001, the Philippines recorded 1.8 million tourist arrivals. When we assumed office in 2010, this figure had grown to only around 3.1 million. Take note: despite the length of their time in office, the previous administration only managed to add a mere 1.3 million tourist arrivals—and we contributed half a year to that number. Under our administration, we welcomed 2.1 million tourist arrivals by June 2012.  More will arrive during peak season, before the end of the year, so I have no doubt that we will meet our quota of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012. This means that we will have a year-on-year increase of 1.5 million tourists.

But Wait! There’s More…

Growing Tourism Industry in the Philippines

The rising number of tourists visiting sites like this beach in Puerto Galera is just one sign that the tourism industry in the Philippines is heading to the right direction. Photo credits: Jun Acullador, Flickr Creative Commons

Now that the tourism industry in the Philippines has gotten back on its feet, the President pointed that the next step is to take the country to a level where it is at par with the other more popular tourist destinations in Asia like Thailand and Malaysia. He boldly stated that the Department of Tourism aims to hit an annual average of ten million tourists visiting the Philippines by 2016.

Sounds impossible? Overwhelming, perhaps. But not impossible, and President Aquino explained in his SONA how this could become a reality.

1. Improving the infrastructures in the country

In his State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned how improving the infrastructure in the country is intertwined with the growth of the tourism industry. And he is quite right about that. The deploring conditions of the country’s road networks and airports have deterred tourists from visiting the Philippines. On the other hand, improving these infrastructures and building more of these infrastructures in the country will bring a message out there that the Philippines is, indeed, poised to become one of the must visit tourist destinations in the Philippines.

2. Capitalizing on what we have

The Philippines has often been equated by many tourists as a prime beach destination. Early this month, Travel + Leisure magazine named Boracay as the Best Island Getaway in the World. Just a few days ago, Palawan’s Ariara Island got the number one spot in British Vogue’s Top 100 Holiday Destinations in the World.

But that’s not the only thing we can offer to tourists. The Philippines is a treasure trove of breathtaking natural treasures like the Puerto Princesa River, which was recently recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. It is also home to a rich cultural heritage and is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the city of Vigan, which is now a nominee for the New 7 Wonders Cities.

Indeed, there is a the Philippines can offer to the world, and help the tourism industry in the Philippines to eventually compete with other countries in Asia.

3. Solid support for the tourism industry in the Philippines

During his SONA, President Aquino indirectly called for the support of the Filipino people towards the endeavors of the tourism industry in the Philippines by pointing to how the solidarity of the Filipinos made it possible for the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. If Filipinos continue to help support and promote the It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign, there is a very good chance that the tourism industry would be able to churn up the numbers projected by the DoT.

Final Thoughts…

I was very pleased with the way how things have been going for the tourism industry in the Philippines. As the President concluded his SONA, he pointed out that all the positive outcomes he reported regarding the tourism industry and other sectors were made possible because of the Filipino people’s support towards the different projects of the government.

The tourism industry in the Philippines still has a long way to go to reach the same level as the other prime tourist destinations in Asia. But for as long as we do our part, no matter how small it may be, it plays a role in making the Philippines once again the precious Pearl of the Orient.

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About Adeline Yuboco

A natural-born foodie with an eye for detail, I started Life and Leisure to be a place where I can share on how to travel and live in style within your means. At the same time, I cover various events for DigitalJournal.com where I'm a contributing journalist. If you got a great story idea or have an event you'd like me to cover, drop me an email at the Contact page, message me on Twitter, or Connect with me on


  1. The Phillappines have always fascinated me. I am encouraged by the fact that there is a great interest and effort to improve and support tourism by the government and it’s people. That is not always an easy thing to do. BTW: very nice post.
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  2. Adeline, his mother Corazon Aquino told me how important it was for her and her government to promote tourism in the Philippines.

    Not sure why, but ever since then, for some reason/s tourism in the Philippines has failed to live up to expectations. Have never understood why. Maybe you need some famous people to start going. Headlines about “Brangelina” buying a holiday home there would most likely have a positive impact.
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    • Personally, I believe it lies in the fact that the Filipinos were not as supportive as they have been with the programs of the previous administrations for one reason or another. Any government agency really needs the support of the general public for any program to become a success.

      As for the coming in of famous Hollywood celebrities, they have been coming here for a while, but it is only recently that it has been making the headlines like the time when the movie Bourne Legacy was filmed here and when Paris Hilton came over to do a series of photo shoots for Century Properties.

  3. I sincerely hope that tourism does improve. As mentioned thought it has to go hand-in-hand with the improvement of infrastructure so people WANT to come there. Great post! :)
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  4. PH government must priorities the improvement of infrastructures and security of the country, then the wave of tourists around the world (mostly from Europe) will follows… =)

  5. The Philippines seems like the other end of the earth to me. But it certainly looks like an interesting place for those who like to travel. I hope they figure out a way to promote even more tourism. Sometimes hiring a good PR firm can help.
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  6. Thanks for this informative update on tourism in the Philippines. I had no idea it was such a prime beach destination … my favorite kind of vacation.

  7. I can’t agree more. I was skeptical at first with the new tourism campaign, but I see it’s been very effective. I can’t wait to see the country with improved infrastructures. This’ll definitely mark something big if these plans will be actualized. However, I think I’ll have to visit the well-kept pristine beaches soon before our country attracts more tourists, or else it might get too crowded like Boracay’s.. >.<

    • Good point there Sumi! Yes, progress and added infrastructures will definitely help, but it should also be balanced so that the charm our country possesses doesn’t get lost in it.

  8. Hi Adeline,

    In Australia we hear and get promotions about certain locations such as Bali yet I don’t remember much promotion about the Philippines. I must admit I did not know about the beach destinations so although we have great beaches here we also tend to visit other countries with them as well. Hope your country gets behind any tourism push.
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  9. I’m glad to know that the tourism industry in the Philippines is booming again. This is going to help a lot of our countrymen.

  10. There is big money in tourism. The Philippines should have started cracking with it twenty years ago, but like they say, better late than never.

  11. as our country boasts of numerous beautiful and world class tourists spots, the government should really give priority in giving assistance to its promotion and marketing, am happy that somehow we are slowly getting up :)
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  12. improved infrastructures. i am so in it. there were lots of roads being cemented and bridges built which shall benefit both agricultural industry and yes, boost tourism. however, i wished there would really be genuine reform as to improve the security as it’s been the barrier why the influx of tourist have dwindled in past years.
    i remember my daughter, their group have targeted a mountain range somewhere in isabela, yet, their school didn’t allow them because there were sitios there that “belongs” to the extremist. they went to the other side of the mountain instead. and, seeing the pristine forest in their photos, my! i was left in awe. huge trees, untouched waterfalls…greens…
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  13. Im not so impressed of this year’s SONA, nothing has changed eversince :( I just hope he can make it this year. On the other site, since Im earning online, i just hope dollar rate will soar high :D
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  14. I agree that we are indeed making strides in the tourism industry and from it’s more fun in the Philippines to being proud to be Filipinos, we are definitely taking tourism to the next level.
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  15. Sounds too good! Let\’s just hope that the upcoming plans for the Philippine\’s tourism industry can be realized. Coupled with rational prioritization of funds and strong will in the governance, I think we can achieve some of the top spots up there.
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  16. I hope these will be realized soon and not only promising about it. Because I guess Philippines has a lot to offer if given the chance, we had a lot of natural resources that everyone could enjoy and must be proud of.

  17. with the increase of tourism in the country… the government should also increase dramatically environmental conservation. coz if we dont protect it, we’ll lose it. and that’s one of the Philippines’ best assets… our environment…
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  18. These facts are amazing! I thought that the number of tourist increased in the last 10 years, but this is almost uncredible! Philippines could be fascinating, unfortunately, I haven’t been there…
    In my opinion this accesion will stop in a few years, because tourist would like to explore new places and Philippines are already explored.
    On the other hand I would like to visit there.
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  19. There is no question that the Philippines is a beautiful country that is rich in natural resources and tourist destinations. The only question here is how we can put them in the best light that will encourage visitors to come. Also, we should be continually tapping on the potentials of local tourism to encourage Filipinos to explore the Philippines first before other countries.
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  20. Too bad I was not able to watch the SONA. Thanks for your updates. And I have also been hearing some good words about it.
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  21. I hope Pres. Noy will succeed to bring Philippine tourism to the next level. I was actually with how Malaysia promote and market the tourism in their country. From his SONA this year, I also agree on responsible parenthood.
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  22. Tourism is something the government can market aggressively since the country is not wanting in tourist destinations. Comments above like lack of promotion overseas is correct because unlike countries like So. Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and now even Vietnam has joined the fray, the Philippines is not so aggressive in marketing. I do not see the “its more fun in the Philippines” avp in CNN, BBC, Fox, NBC etc…unlike the aforementioned countries.
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  23. I agree with Koko, that the Government should also focus on environmental conservation. Also, for Filipino Citizen who wants to travel locally they should offer discounts at airfare and hotel accommodations. I want to go to Boracay this year but the price is almost the same as going to HongKong Disneyland.
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    • Now, that is a very good suggestion on the Filipino discounts, Levy! And you’re right. As local tourists, incentives should be given to us to choose our own tourist destinations than elsewhere.

  24. The Philippines has always been on my to visit list. Living in Australia it is one of our closest neighbors. I visit family in Europe every few years so my stays in Asia have always been those on my route- Singapore and Hong Kong. Cheaper flights via the Philippines from Melbourne to Europe would be wonderful.
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  25. I think infrastructure is a key area that needs development for any country that wants to attract tourists. Not that all tourists look for facilities but families that travel could greatly benefit from it. It is interesting how Asia is blooming in tourism.
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  26. No doubt Philippine are growing country and tourist get more interest in that type of regions specially beaches and there cultivation attract more people interest.
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  27. If we will just help our government and stop arguing we can do that! I always think positive regardless what administration we have here in the Philippines. I am still hoping and praying that someday our WISHES will come true. To have a country well respected and good future to offer to all Filipinos.

    • Well said, Pal! No matter what the government does, if we the Filipino won’t be there to support these programs, nothing will happen. Don’t you think so?

      • Of course, though sometimes we think that our government abandoned us because of what we see around us. Poverty and hunger is the common issue here and options for FOOD SECURITY. But we have also to think that prior to that problem we should give something to people that can help them improve, by giving them work. And by this tourism is the answer. Boost of tourism means more projects, more works to come.

  28. Six months after SONA, Tourism still continues to be strongly advertised and still soaring. I hope the numbers soar further.
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  29. I hope Mr President can back-up what he has said during ther last SONA.
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  30. That’s good news for our fellowmen and good also for the Philippine economy which could generate more jobs, so most Filipinos will no longer leave their families and sacrifice abroad to have a decent income they could bring back home. Let’s just all support our government to achieve this goal that will benefit all of us Filipinos and our next generations.

    • Well said, Ellen! Yes, that is one of the great things we’ll be able to benefit when our tourism industry will grow. I find it so sad that lots of kids today have to grow up with one or both parents are not present because they need to work elsewhere so that they have an okay income. Thanks so much for dropping by.

  31. I hope it will be pushed through for they are the necessary actions for our tourism growth!

  32. The people had did their part in contributing the growth of tourism in our country. If the government will prioritize and serious about improving the infrastructures, we’ll surely beat Thailand and Malaysia in terms of tourist visits. Been living in Malaysia for quite some time and can compare how the MY government spend a lot of money in upgrading their infrastructures and integrated transportation system. The taxes collected from it’s people was wisely spend and masses benefited from it aside from attracting tourists.
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  33. I think Filipino Travel Bloggers are one of the few who contributed a lot for tourism in the Philippines to grow. Because of our travels, love for our country and writing about it has reach wide audience not only locally but most especially in other parts of the world has made the beauty of our country known. So bloggers, keep on traveling the Philippines and write a lot about it =)
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  34. So true! I’m glad that they’re taking the Philippine tourism to the next level. This was the reason I created my own travel blog — to share the wonderful attractions and natural beauty that we have here. However, I believe that the important things you mentioned must be prioritized by the government in order for us to be competitive against our neighboring countries.
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  35. I think the government is now doing great tourism-wise, and I agree that bloggers had played a big role for all of these… :)
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  36. I am not so impressed about what Pnoy had said during the last SONA. I’ll just cross my fingers that DOT is on the right track to put tourism into the next level.
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  37. I we don’t have corrupt government, our country is the one of the best destination for tourist . We are only known because of the travel bloggers who keep on promoting our country.
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  38. I would also like to believe that we, Filipino Travel Bloggers, are also one of the many assets of the Tourism Industry. I’d like to believe that our efforts of traveling around the Philippines and promoting each of its city’s, is also one way of attracting more tourists into our country. :) But of course, kudos to the Aquino Administration for their hard work too, as I’ve been seeing a lot of good results over the years. :)
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  39. Yup, I do agree – business is booming in our country. I myself is a witness to that, our company has increase its clients in traveling agencies even if its not a peak season. And also the positive reviews too.
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  40. I’m not in favor with Pnoy but I guess He’s doing great in our Government as of now. It is very important to one country to have an official who’s not corrupt. I hope not only tourism will grow in our country but also the livelihood program for our fellow kababayans.
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  41. way to go philippines.. I guess we also have to give credit to the different airlines who offer cheap airfare to our dream destinations, this way we filipinos (not just foreigners) also get to enjoy the beautiful places our country has..Yahweh bless.
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  42. All is well, let’s work hand in hand, dream big Ph!

  43. Excellent post Adeline about the Philippines. “Only in the Philippines”, and “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” as the slogan goes.

    The Underground River in Puerto Princesa is a place Filipinos are so proud about. I hope I could visit it someday as well.

    Keep writing!
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  44. Philippines is the greatest. However our tourism board should be more aggressive. I think we need to focus more on our cultural heritage. We have so many natural resources but we lack how to market this greatness.
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  45. The new slogan ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ is surprisingly very effective. Well, it’s not a campaign, it’s the truth! :D
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