(Photo from tourism.gov.ph)

Foreign visitors to the Philippines increased their spending as of the first quarter, latest data from the Department of Tourism showed.

Receipts from inbound tourists amounted to P132.4 billion from January to March this year, up 13 percent from P117.2 billion.

The amount represented the estimated cumulative spending of foreigners who traveled to the Philippines during the first three months. Spending covered money spent on accommodations, food, leisure and other activities while visiting the country.

Last year, tourist receipts fell short of target as the number of expected visitors also settled behind goal.

Tourist spending reached a record-high of P402.7 billion, up by a fifth year-on-year, but below the P420-billion goal. A total of 7.13 million foreigners flew in last year, below the 7.4-million target.

For 2019, the government aims to generate P524 billion from 8.2 million foreign tourists it targets to attract to the country.

The Duterte administration is at least optimistic of hitting its visitor arrival target this year, following the re-opening of world-renowned Boracay island last November after a five-month rehabilitation.

Boracay alone attracts around 2 million tourists a year.

Over the past three years, the country’s tourism industry has received a boost from rising number of Chinese visitors, owing to President Rodrigo Duterte’s more cordial ties with Beijing.

From January to May, 733,769 Chinese tourists entered the Philippines, up 31 percent from same period a year ago. Arrivals from the mainland accounted for 21 percent of total visitors that period.

Koreans remained the top visitors of the Philippines in the first five months, with 788,530 in arrivals. (PressONE.ph Business)