Aslom Island, in Oriental Mindoro Province, Philippines.
The Philippines, an archipelago in the western Pacific, is spread over 7,640 islands. Photo shows Aslom Island, off the main Mindoro island (land area: 10,572 km²). Image Credit: Travel Oriental Mindoro

Manila: Tourism has made a huge comeback in the Philippines with 1.7 million arrivals in the first three months of 2024, official data revealed.

The 21.3-per cent rise in arrival numbers in the first quarter this year – from 1.29 million in the same period in 2023 – could help the country hit targets enough to match pre-pandemic levels before 2024 is out.

The Department of Tourism is ramping up its tourism campaign with the global travel trade, covering more cities around the world, including the Middle East, alongside a whole-of-nation drive to boost Halal tourism.

8.21 m

Number of tourist arrivals expected by end-2024, as per Fitch Solutions unit BMI

Top 5, by country of residence

In terms of country of origin, South Korean tourists topped the list of arrivals with 458,619, or 27.59 per cent of the total, up from 26.02 per cent in the same period last year.

The cruise ship Norwegian Jewel calls the Port of Currimao (top photo), in northern Philippines, after spending a day in the capital Manila.
The luxury cruise ship 'Norwegian Jewel' calls the Port of Currimao (top photo), in northern Philippines, after spending a day in the capital Manila.

The US came second with 264,690 tourist arrivals, equivalent to a 15.92 per cent share of total arrivals – and 4.36 per cent higher than the first quarter of 2023.

On the third spot is China, with 109,568, accounting for 6.59 per cent of tourist arrivals and 149.9 per cent jump from 43,833 in the first quarter of 2023.

Japan took the fourth spot with 109,347 arrivals from January to March 2024, or 6.34 per cent of total arrivals during the period, a 63.21 per cent increase from the first quarter of 2023 with 64,547.

Philippine tourism arrivals Q1 2024
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal | Gulf News

Australia took the fifth spot with 67,634 arrivals, or 4.07 per cent of the total. This, however, represented a 3.75 per cent drop from 70,266 in the first quarter of 2023.

Affordable, diverse

The Philippines, known for its affordability and diverse offerings, anticipates a surge in regional arrivals due to its proximity and robust transport connections.

Cruise ship Boracay
A cruise ship near the central resort island of Boracay, Philippines. Image Credit: Carlos Celdran | FB

Fitch Solutions unit BMI forecasts a return to pre-pandemic foreign visitor levels, estimating arrivals to reach 8.21 million by the end of 2024. The Department of Tourism is aiming for a more modest target of 7.7 million tourist arrivals this year.

In 2023, the Philippines welcomed over 5.45 million foreign visitors, surpassing BMI's projection of 4.9 million for 2023 and DOT's own target.

The tourism sector's complete recovery is expected to get an added boost from a rise in arrivals from key markets in Asia, Europe, and the US and Canada. 


Nationals of 157 foreign countries are-visa free for 14 days, 30 days, or 59 days. Of the more than 200 countries and territories, 39 need visa to enter the Philippines.

In general, foreign nationals wishing to visit the Philippines require a visa – unless s/he is a citizen or of a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or s/he is a citizen of a non-ASEAN member whose nationals are allowed to enter the Philippines visa-free, or s/he is a “balikbayan” returning to the Philippines temporarily.

Entry guidelines 

Nationals traveling to the Philippines for business and tourism purposes are allowed to enter the country by obtaining a visa on arrival for staying not exceeding 30 days, provided they hold the tickets for the return journey to port of origin or next part of destination.