Yes, it is worth to jump with joy when President BS Aquino mentioned in his SONA that the Philippines tourist arrivals grew by 24% since 2010 when he assumed office.
Yes, the Philippines tourists arrivals reached 4, 273,000 in 2012 and grew by 9% compared to 3,920,000 as recorded in 2011.
Is it a marked improvement? Yes and No.
Yes, if we are competing only with ourselves. No, if we are comparing ourselves with ASEAN and other countries in Asia.
Tourist arrivals in ASEAN countries reached 88,687,000 in 2012. Hence, the Philippines recorded only a measly 4.8% share against the possible total.
By ranking, the Philippines tourist arrival ranked #6 in ASEAN countries and is only ahead with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Compared to the ASEAN leader, Malaysia registered over 25 Million tourists in 2012.
It looks like that the Philippines is only bench marking in itself and is happy already with less than 5% share in the pie of tourist arrivals.
We should remember and be aware that the 2012 performance of 9% above 2011 and 24% above 2010 performance was a product of a very huge advertising expenditure when our Tourism Department adopted the campaign “It is more fun in the Philippines”.
I am neither cynical nor lambasting the Tourism Department’s achievement, but would just like to put in a proper context our performance in the area of Tourism against our ASEAN neighbors.
Indeed, we are praising and congratulating a positive performance and at the same time is issuing a challenge to our National and local government and in particular to our Tourism Department that the opportunities to improve in the area of Tourism is indeed very huge.
Indeed, it is more fun to be a leader in tourism!!!