MANILA – The Philippines has recorded a total of 1.1 million foreign travelers since it reopened in February this year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) reported late Friday.

The latest figure as of August 7 surpassed the full-year arrivals in 2021 when borders were still closed to tourists and only 163,879 foreigners entered the country.

To sustain this momentum, the DOT promised an enhanced "overall experience" for travelers by promoting "digitalization" and working with relevant offices to further improve tourism infrastructure.

Tourism's 12.7 percent contribution to the country's economy before the pandemic fell to 5.1 percent in 2020 and 5.2 percent last year.

At a tourism summit in Cebu on Thursday, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the DOT projects the sector would "recoup its losses and revert to pre-pandemic level in the next three years."

Frasco said the DOT is developing new regional tourism circuits that would highlight nature-based tourism; Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE); food and gastronomy; heritage and culture; farm and agri-tourism; health and wellness; and arts, among others.

“All these tourism dimensions will get an equal promotion, attention, and support as we expand ourselves from the traditional portfolio and explore multidimensional tourism,” she said.

Frasco also urged the tourism stakeholders to do their share and "build a stronger bridge of collaboration" to uplift the tourism industry.

“All of you play a vital role in our aspirations for recovery and progress. Your success, our success, means more jobs for our people, a better economy, more productive workforce, and sparking our recovery not only in our tourism industry here in Cebu but for the entirety of our country's economy," she told about 200 tourism stakeholders and local government representatives present during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry-organized event.

"I invite everyone to join the efforts of the Department of Tourism and the national government in building a stronger bridge of collaboration to maximize all of our efforts and that we would be able to exceed our previous standing on the global stage," she added. (PNA)