Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Taiwanese visitors to the Philippines in June rose by more than 50 percent year-on-year, sustaining the growth that has made the Philippines one of the fastest growing destinations in Asia for local travelers.
A total of 32,019 Taiwanese nationals visited the Philippines in June, up 55.42 percent from the 20,601 visitors seen in June 2018, according to Tourism Bureau statistics.
In the first six months, Taiwanese departures to the Philippines rose 30.6 percent from the same period a year earlier to 160,117, making it the third fastest growing outbound market in Asia in percentage terms behind Brunei (474.48 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (97.66 percent), which benefit from much lower baselines.
Though Taiwanese visits to the Philippines still lagged well behind those to Thailand (406,624) and Vietnam (401,595) in the first six months of 2019, they exceeded the number of trips to Malaysia (149,756) and were closing in on visits to Singapore (192,092).
Taiwanese travelers have made their impact felt in the Philippines, coming in as the country's sixth largest source of foreign tourists in 2018, according to data from the Philippines' Department of Tourism.
"I was told that boat operators and service-oriented workers in El Nido can already speak certain phrases in Mandarin as a result of their frequent interactions with Taiwanese tourists," Angelito Banayo, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and the Philippines' representative to Taiwan, told CNA on Tuesday.
El Nido is one of the best known attractions in the western Philippines known for its magnificent rock formations, fine beaches, and bright blue waters.
Reflecting the close ties between the two countries, there are currently about 10 direct flights operating daily between Taiwan and the Philippines, plus other weekly and chartered flights, Banayo said, and more direct flights are being negotiated.
Banayo credited the positive development in tourism to the efforts of MECO and related government agencies of the two countries, and also to Taiwanese businessmen traveling to the Philippines to invest there or do business.
Taiwan identified the Philippines as a "priority partner" under its New Southbound Policy, which was introduced in 2016 to bolster multifaceted relations and people-to-people ties, including tourism, with its neighbors in the region.