February 5, 2017
Despite 'toknaps', 1.5 M Korean tourists spent P70B last year--Recto
Tourist arrivals last year hit a record-high 5.967 million on the back of a surge in Korean visitors, close to 1.5 million of whom flocked here for "sun, sea and shopping", which should "prompt the Philippines to assure its number one source of tourists that its citizens are safe here."
The call was made by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, who warned the government "that any impression that Koreans are being killed here will kill the goose that lays the most eggs in our tourism nest."
From 1 million in 2012, the number of Korean tourists soared to 1.475 million in 2016, the first market to breach the 1.4 million mark, he said.
"Kahit naha-harass ang ilan sa kanila, kahit biktima ng extortion at toknap, o tokhang for kidnap, half a million more of them visited us during the past four years," Recto said.
"Buti na lang, the beauty of the Philippines and their desire to come here have not been overpowered by news on KIAs - Koreans in Abductions," he added.
One in four tourists are Koreans, "and this big footprint is reflected in tourism income," Recto explained.
By Recto's count, Korean tourists had spent P200 billion locally from 2014 to 2016.
"They're pouring in P60 to P70 billion a year. If they were a corporation, they'd certainly land in the top 50 biggest," Recto said.
The 143,380 Korean tourists who were here in December last year were estimated to have spent about P5.6 billion.
In November 2016, a Korean tourist on the average spent P44,200 while here. This slightly dipped to about P39,000 the following month.
At the minimum, 30 percent of tourism receipts are courtesy of Koreans, Recto said.
Tourism receipts reached P230.1 billion in 2016, P227.6 billion in 2015, P215 billion in 2014.
But keeping "this big Korean slice in the tourism pie" would require moves by Philippine authorities to calm any jitters caused by reports that some Korean nationals have fallen prey to rogue cops who shake them down for money, Recto said.
Recto is batting for "security and assistance programs tailor-made for Korean tourists," like close linkages between the national police and Korean embassy personnel.
"Kung pwede nga isang dedicated 24-hour hotline in Crame manned by a Korean-speaking personnel," Recto said.
He also proposed a bigger advertising and promotions budget for the Korean market. This is a P5 billion a month market, and growing. We should finance market protection and promotion drives. It is a worthy investment."
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