MANILA -- With Philippines becoming more prominent as the "hottest place" to visit in Asia, Denmark Ambassador Jan Top Christensen is optimistic the more than 18,000 Danish tourists in 2017 to the country will further increase this year.

"I expect that more will be coming because the Philippines is very much featured in international tourism magazines as the hottest place to visit now," Christensen told reporters in a recent interview.

"The word is spreading and more is coming," he added.

Based on statistics released by the Department of Tourism for international arrivals in 2017, at least 18,445 Danish nationals visited the country, a 2.19 percent growth from the 2016 figures.

Given the growth, Christensen said it is now important for the Philippines to "broaden" its scope of activities from beaches and diving.

"You have many other things to offer. I think with that, you will see a constant growth (on number) of tourists from Denmark to the Philippines," he said.

"Danish have been going to Thailand for decades, so they want something else, and they get something else in the Philippines," the ambassador added.

With the Build, Build, Build program of the administration, more airports, railways and better roads are seen constructed from ‎2017-2022. Christensen said this equates to the country also preparing the basics for more foreign tourists in the Philippines.

"The more you improve, and with this government, you're going to improve the infrastructure a lot with new airports, better roads, more hotels that can house the tourists, you're building the sort of the basic conditions for more tourists in this country."

The right thing to do

When asked how the issue of Boracay island undergoing a massive rehabilitation affects the country's image as a tourist destination in Asia, the envoy said that the government's move was the "right thing to do."

"I think it is an important signal... I think what the government is doing right now is the right thing to do," he said, explaining that if mass tourism is not properly managed, negative return is bound to bounce back.

"I can't help it when I see the criticism of Boracay, El Nido and all the other places. This is what happened in my own town in Denmark when I was a kid," he said.

"I recall, I was swimming around in a sea where it was polluted, and we realized it's bad for the people living there, it's not good for tourism. So we took step and systematized the waste management."

Christensen said the move on Boracay island will serve as a "major call" that if waste management is not taken seriously, tourists will stay away.

"If tourists come here and they see garbage all over, they see sewage in the sea, they will stay away for sure," he pointed out. "But the good news is that it's possible to do something." (PNA)