MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is expecting a hefty growth in the number of Korean tourists next year to two million arrivals as exchange of traffic improves.

“The two-way traffic has never been better. It’s safe to assume that Korea will continue to be the number one market for the Philippines,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. said.

The two million target is a 20 to 30 percent increase from the projected 1.5 million to 1.7 million Korean tourists this year.

Korea has been the top market of the country for the past 10 years with an average of 3,000 arrivals on a daily basis.

For the first seven months of the year, DOT recorded 762,277 Korean arrivals with a 24.52 percent share to total inbound traffic.

Although there is a big difference between Korean arrivals from the next top visitors, United States and Japan, Bengzon noted the challenge lies in pushing for the other markets.

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“What is important is for us to achieve an optimum mix of source markets so that overall we are able to insulate ourselves from negative developments in the global environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, DOT noted there is an uninterrupted growth in the tourism sector since 2010.

“We are able to grow consistently. When there is decline in a certain market, we immediately compensate in another market,” Bengzon added.

Furthermore, he admitted that share of Metro Manila as a gateway is starting to slightly decrease as tourists are going straight to provincial airports such as Cebu, Clark and Puerto Princesa.

On the other hand, DOT also commended the taking off of community-based tourism in the country, as it provides more revenues and improves the lives of local citizens.

“They have taken a very aggressive stance to ensure that the products are what the market is looking for and services are at par with competitors across the region,” he said.