Cebu hospitality players optimistic about having an increase in 2024 foreign visitors

Cebu hospitality players optimistic about having an increase in 2024 foreign visitors

The Hotel, Resort, and Restaurant Association of Cebu expressed " optimism" for the upswing in tourism arrivals and occupancy levels.

HRRAC president Alfred Reyes told media that he still sees domestic tourism as providing the most growth potential this year, as arrivals from crucial foreign markets, such as China and Japan have yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.

"2024 will be more promising than 2023. Everyone is hopeful of 2024. The trend is going up and we are very hopeful that 2024 will be far better than last year in terms of tourism arrivals and occupancy," Reyes said.

He cited that the absence of Chinese and Japanese tourists is preventing the Philippines from further growing its foreign arrivals, alongside other challenges like accessibility and absence of free visas to promising markets such as India, a market that the country can replace China.

"The Korean market has been a big help for us and a good sign for 2024," Reyes revealed. The Korean market is already 60 percent from the 2019 levels.

The Department of Tourism aims to attract 7.7 million foreign tourists by 2024 as it surpassed its target from 4.8 million to 5.4 million in 2023. Higher than 650,000. It has generated more than P480 billion in international tourism receipts.

South Korea retained its top spot as the Philippines' main source of international visitors in 2023 with 1,439,336 tourists. Second was the United States of America(USA) with 903,299 then Japan with 305,580, followed by Australia with 266,551 and China with 263,836. Other foreigners who visited the country were from Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Reyes stressed that the domestic market will still be the main growth driver with the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the challenges faced by Japan's economy.

"Because of these, the Philippines will need to further boost its domestic tourism campaign and encourage more Filipinos to travel locally as they are going to fill in rooms and provide occupancy to other tourism establishments," He added.

In 2023, the average occupancy rate for hotels and resorts in Cebu was 60 percent. Mactan properties exhibited a split demographic, with 60 percent of international guests and 40 percent local while city hotels had a reverse trend, with 60 percent locals and 40 percent foreigners.

In 2019, the Philippines welcomed 8.2 million foreign tourists with South Korea having 1.98 million and China with 1.74 million. The visitor receipts were at P482.15 billion.

HRRAC is in full support of the initiative of DOT Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco in pushing for e-Visa for Chinese and Indian travelers to make the country competitive among its Asian peers. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice implemented the e-visas.

The e-Visa system for China was pilot-tested in August 2023. But on 1 December, the DFA suspended the operations of the Philippine e-Visa System in China until further notice.

While India is still waiting for the government's approval.

E-Visa allows foreign nationals entering the country for tourism or business to apply for temporary visitor visas remotely through their personal computers, laptops, and mobile devices.

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