A TOTAL of 1.07 million tourists visited Central Visayas in the first quarter this year, up by 10.26 percent compared to the same period in 2014, data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 show.

The region’s domestic tourism dropped 5.28 percent from 588,480 last year to 557,421 this year. However, foreign arrivals grew by 33.62 percent from 380,991 in 2014 to 509,093.

Of the four provinces that compose Region 7, Cebu logged the highest tourist arrivals at 813,972, followed by Negros Oriental at 141,183, Bohol with 103,157 and Siquijor with 13,244.

Korea remained Cebu’s strongest tourism source market, registering a growth of 45.04 percent or 185,967 arrivals compared to 61,533 in 2014.

Taiwan, meanwhile, logged the highest growth during the period at 99.86 percent or 8,718 arrivals this year from 4,362 arrivals last year. China, on the other hand, recorded the lowest growth in arrivals at 0.26 percent from 19,828 in 2014 to 19,777 this year.

Arrivals from Japan, the region’s second source market, logged 37.28 percent growth or 84,471 arrivals while visitors from USA grew by 25.29 percent or 43,976.

Australia and Canada posted significant growth during the first three months this year. Australia grew 32.13 percent (16,632 arrivals) while Canada posted 45.15 percent growth (11,172).

Other key tourism source markets, likewise, exhibited growth in arrivals. 

Germany logged 20.25 percent growth (10,809 arrivals); France grew 37.31 percent (10,618 arrivals) and United Kingdom posted 6.22 percent growth (10,609 arrivals).

DOT records show the Philippines welcomed a total of 1.391 million visitors in the first quarter this year, registering a 6.26 percent increase over last year’s arrivals of 1.309 million.

Looking at the contribution by country market for the first three months of the year, Korea has consistently had the biggest volume with 361,480 arrivals, up by 20.40 percent compared to 300,239 arrivals for the same months in 2014.

USA supplied the second largest influx of tourist arrivals with 214,057 visitors. This market grew by 7.32 percent compared to 199,465 arrivals for the same period last year. 

Japan ranked as the third biggest country market, providing a total of 130,374 arrivals, increasing by 8.69 percent from its 2014 arrivals of 119,951. China ranked fourth, logging 93,043 visitors and Australia with 62,899 arrivals.

Rounding up the top 10 visitor markets are Canada which logged 46,756 arrivals; Singapore (44,216 arrivals) Taiwan (41,713 arrivals); United Kingdom (40,071 arrivals); and Malaysia (37,336 arrivals).

Earnings gained from tourism activities in the first quarter of 2015 reached an estimated P58.96 billion, up by 2.21 percent from the P57.68 billion in the first three months of 2014.