Tourism in the Philippines

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The Palawan island in the province of Palawan, named as the best island in the world by numerous travel magazines such as National Geographic Traveler.[1]

Tourism is an important sector for the Philippine economy, contributing 7.8% to the Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014.[2]

The Philippines is an archipelagic country composed of 7,107 islands with 82 provinces divided in 18 regions. The Philippines is known for having its rich biodiversity and it is the main tourist attraction in the country.[3] Its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots are among the country's most popular tourist destinations. The country's rich historical and cultural heritage is also one of the attractions of the Philippines.

Popular destinations among tourists are El Nido in Palawan, Boracay, Cebu, Manila and many more.

Boracay, one of the best islands in the world, famous for its fine white sand beach.[4]

Since 2010, South Korea has been the largest source of visitors to the Philippines. In 2013, a total of 1.17 million South Koreans visited the Philippines. It is followed by the United States, Japan, China, Australia, Taiwan, and Canada.[5] In 2013, the country attracted 4,681,307 visitors.[5]

In 2014, the Department of Tourism announced that the year 2015 will be the Visit the Philippines year.


Tourism makes an important part to the economy of the country. The growth of the economy had been into a major change since the end of the People Power Revolution up until to the present time because of the Tourism growth.

In 2000, the Philippines' tourist arrivals totaled 2.2 million. In 2003, it totaled 2,838,000, a growth of almost 29%, and was expected to grow as much as 3.4 million in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, the tourist arrival in the Philippines grew as much as 20% in same period last year. In 2011, the Department of Tourism recorded 3.9 million tourists visiting the country,[6] 11.2 percent higher than the 3.5 million registered in 2010.

In 2012, the Philippines recorded 4.27 million tourist arrivals, after the Department of Tourism launched a widely publicized tourism marketing campaign entitled "It's More Fun In the Philippines".[7]

The tourism industry employed 3.8 million Filipinos, or 10.2 per cent of national employment in 2011, according to data gathered by the National Statistical Coordination Board. In a greater thrust by the Aquino administration to pump billion[clarification needed] to employ 7.4 million people by 2016, or about 18.8 per cent of the total workforce, contributing 8 per cent to 9 per cent to the nation's GDP.[8]

In 2014, the tourism sector contributed 1.4 trillion pesos to the country's economy.[9]


Manila before World War II, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Devastated Manila in 1945 after the war.

Tourism in the Philippines traces its origins during the ancient times when the first set of people chose to migrate through land bridges, followed by the second set of migrants from Indonesia, then the last migrants from Borneo Islands. All of those created their own kingdoms and tribes within the archipelago. Trade also became part of the tourism as Arabs, Indians and Chinese traded products and goods to the natives. When the islands became part of the territory of Spain, an influx of Spanish people migrated, (though still few compared to the ones migrated in South America due to distance of the country.)

The Philippine tourism industry first flourished during the late 19th to early 20th century due to the influx of immigrants from Europe and the United States. It was listed as one of the best country to visit in Asia aside from Hong Kong and Japan, earning the nickname "Pearl of the Orient Seas". The tourism declined during and after the World War II, leaving the country with a completely devastated capital. Most immigrants from Europe and US, and some other Filipinos were offered to emigrate to the US. The second wave of tourist influx flourished in the 1970s and early 1980s but declined in the mid 1980s due to the EDSA Revolution, with the average length of tourist stay falling from 12.6 days in earlier years to 8.9 days in 1988. In 1987, tourism growth was slower in the Philippines than in other Southeast Asian countries. About 1.2 million tourists visited the Philippines in 1992, which was a record high in the number of tourist visits since 1989.

Today, the modern-day Tourism of the Philippines boomed again at the early part of the 2010s after the decline in the previous decade. The country saw an influx of tourists from all over the world, with the help of social media and the creative tagline, the tourism went at its peak and became one of the countries people wanted to visit in Southeast Asia with having 3,590,038 million tourists recorded from January to August 2015.[10]

Map of the Philippines[edit]

Note: This map shows all of the 82 provinces divided into 18 regions. National Capital Region formerly known as the Province of Manila is labeled as Metro Manila.

Tourism of Metropolitan Manila[edit]

National Capital Region[edit]

National Capital Region, formerly the Province of Manila during the Spanish period, commonly known today as Metro Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines, is the seat of government and the most populous region of the country which is composed of 16 independent cities with one independent town, mainly Manila, the capital city of the country, Quezon City, the country's most populous city, the Municipality of Pateros, and the cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela.

The region was established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 824 in response to the needs to sustain the growing population and for the creation for the center of political power and the seat of the Government of the Philippines.

The Province of Manila, the progenitor to the present-day Metro Manila, is one of the eight original provinces that revolted against the Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. The province was honored as one of the sun rays in the Flag of the Philippines, with each of the eight sun rays symbolizing one of the eight revolutionary provinces.

City of Manila[edit]

Manila City skyline view from Harbour Square
Rizal Monument in Rizal Park
Casa Manila in Intramuros
National Museum, it is the former Legislative Building before WWII.
San Agustin Church
San Sebastian Basilica, the only steel church in Asia

City of Manila is the capital city of the country. It is located in the National Capital Region in Luzon Island, along with the other 16 cities that compose the National Capital Region or more commonly known as Metropolitan Manila or Metro Manila. The city's tourism industry dates back to 15th century when the traders and merchants from China, India and other parts of Asia visited the country for trading purposes. When the country became a territory of Spain, many Europeans which were Dukes, Aristocrats and others in the upper class became attracted to the tropical city and visited. Some even immigrated. Also, the city became one of the important cities in world trade as it became the trade post between the East and West, making Manila as one of the original global cities in the world alongside London and Paris.

When the Americans took over, the city grew its size and started to redevelop a modern Manila. By the 1920s, the city became the most beautiful city in Asia and got the nickname, Queen City of the Pacific and Pearl of the Orient (which is similar to the nickname for the country). Tourists from around the world got to experience to live in a tropical city with all of the amenities available and an influx of tourist were high. In 1940s, during World War II, Manila was constantly bombed by the air raids of the Japanese but in 1945 the city experienced a horrifying scenes as the capital became the bloodshed of war between the American and the Japanese army, leaving the most beautiful city in Asia devastated. Many immigrants and Manilans either moved to the other cities or moved to the other countries. After the war,when the reconstruction of Manila was finished, the city experienced an influx of tourists in the 50s, 60s, and the 70s. In 2010s, it is still one of the top Philippine destinations that people visit.

Manila was home to most of the cultural heritage sites such as Cathedrals, Universities, Leisure Parks, Government Offices and others. The most popular attractions are the:

Rizal Park - also called Luneta Park. It is the most popular landmark of Manila. The Monument of the Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the country can be found in the park. Several areas such as the Japanese and Chinese Garden, the Open Auditorium and many more can also be found. A life size depiction of the execution scene of Dr. Rizal in the said park is also one of the attractions.

Intramuros - the 400-year-old fortress was the original "Manila" before the Americans expanded the city and made the fortress just one of the districts. Many historical places can be found inside the district such as the Plaza de Roma, the ruins of the Aduana Building, the Manila Cathedral, the Old Ayuntamiento de Manila, the Palacio del Gobernador, the Casa Manila, the Cuartel de Santa Lucia,San Agustin Church and many more.

Manila Ocean Park - Manila Ocean Park is an aquamarine park located in a reclaimed land adjacent to the Quirino Grandstand and Wallace Field. It houses different marine species such as sharks, sting rays, seals to name a few.

Manila Chinatown - Manila Chinatown is the oldest chinatown in the world. It covers most part of the Binondo District. It houses many Chinese stores and boutiques where some are even a hundred year old shops.

Baywalk - It is the most distinctive attraction that represents the city together with the Rizal Monument. Baywalk is long promenade along the Roxas Boulevard where the sunset can be seen with a perfect view.

Malacañang Palace - it is the where the President and the first family lives.

Other sites of destination

Makati City[edit]

Makati City skyline

Makati City is the city located at the heart of the National Capital Region. It is the financial center of the Philippines; it has the highest concentration of multinational and local corporations in the country. Major banks, corporations, department stores as well as foreign embassies are based in Makati. Makati City is considered to be the richest city in the country.

With a population of 529,039 Makati is the 16th-largest city in the country and ranked as the 41st most densely populated city in the world with 19,336 inhabitants per square kilometer. Although its population is just half a million, the daytime population of the city is estimated to be more than one million during a typical working day because of the large number of people who go to the city to work, shop, and do business.

Ayala Avenue
Makati Slogan seen at the Makati Avenue entrance of the Ayala Triangle Gardens.
The Our Lady of Grace Parish in Guadalupe Viejo,Makati
Bonifacio High Street

Makati City's former name was San Pedro de Macati and it used to be a small town south of the then bustling city of Manila. The Nielsen Field, the country's first airport was established in the city. During that same period, Santa Ana Park, the nation's second horse racing facility, opened to expectations from horse racing fans. After the destruction of Manila during the Second World War, Nielsen Field was closed but the town grew rapidly as the people from Manila moved to other cities and the real estates values boomed.The first of the planned communities (in what are now the barangays Forbes Park, Urdaneta, San Lorenzo and Bel-Air) were established in the 1950s with the efforts of its landowner, Ayala y Compañía. The Ayalas continued to develop the town until it granted its cityhood in 1995 and remains in linked with city up until today.

The city is also home to large shopping centres, urban leisure parks, hotels and restaurtants and historical sites. It is considered as the most well known shopping hub in the country.

Ayala Center - Ayala Center is the main shopping center of the city located at the Central Business District. It is composed of different large shopping malls connected to each other, mainly, Glorietta, SM Makati and Greenbelt. The center is a premier shopping and cultural district in the metropolis because of its wide array of shopping, entertainment and cultural offerings.

Ayala Avenue - dubbed as the Wall Street of the Philippines, it is the main avenue of the Central district where most of the tall skyscrapers can be found along the avenue. Ayala Avenue's segment from Paseo de Roxas to Makati Avenue used to be a runway of the Nielson Airport, which was one of the first airports built in Luzon. The airport was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines on December 10, 1941 and resumed operations after the end World War II in 1947. The runways were converted into a road in 1949 when the permanent facilities of the airport was passed on the owner of the land, the Ayala Corporation.

Ayala Triangle Gardens - it is a park located at the center of the Central Business District along the intersections of Makati Avenue and Ayala Avenue, the triangle is also home to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the old Makati Stock Exchange center and the old Nielson Tower which is now a museum.The Triangle has become a focal point for social events in the business district, and is popular at Christmastime for its extravagant light-and-sound display.

Rockwell Center - it is a commercial hub located in Makati Poblacion,Makati, the old downtown area of the city. It used to be a thermal powerplant until the land was redeveloped to become a commercial center.

Ayala Museum - is run privately by Ayala Foundation, Inc. This six-storey edifice houses ethnographic and archaeological exhibits on Filipino culture, art, and history. Since its establishment in 1967, the museum has been committed to showcasing overseas collections and situating contemporary Philippine art in the global arena in a two-way highway of mutual cooperation and exchange with local and international associates.

Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church - also known as the Our Lady of Grace Parish or simply Guadalupe Church, is a baroque church located in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati.The territory of the parish covers the San Carlos Seminary, the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Manila and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary

Fort Bonifacio District is a disputed district of Makati. It is a commercial, financial and fashion hub with high end shopping boutiques, recreational parks and universities. It is a former military fort and was later redeveloped as one of the commercial districts of the country. It is currently an area disputed with Makati and Taguig. Makati won the district back to the city, however the district is under the Taguig city's jurisdictions. It has its own shopping center, the Bonifacio High Street which has restaurants and boutiques lined up along the street.

Other places are

Quezon City[edit]

Quezon Memorial Circle
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Lake
Balara Filters Park Swimming Pool
Shady Trees in Sunken Garden in UP Diliman Campus
The Araneta Coliseum with the "Big Cube" LED display during a PBA game

Quezon City also known to Filipinos as QC is the largest city in the National Capital Region in terms of Land Area, and also the most populous city in the country. Quezon City was named after Manuel L. Quezon, second President of the Philippines, who founded the city and developed it to replace the City of Manila as the national capital for 28 years from 1948 to 1976. Quezon City is not located in and should not be confused with Quezon Province, which was also named after the president.

The city is considered as the entertainment center of the country, where most of the major television networks can be found here (hence getting the nickname "City of Stars").Though known as the entertainment capital, Quezon City also has recreational parks and shopping centers, universities and government offices and is actually planned to be a "Green City" by former President Quezon.

Quezon Memorial Circle - The Quezon Memorial Circle is a national park and a national shrine located in Quezon City, which became the capital of the Philippines from 1948 to 1976. The park is located inside a large traffic circle in the shape of an ellipse and bounded by the Elliptical Road. Its main feature is a tall mausoleum containing the remains of Manuel L. Quezon, the second official President of the Philippines and the first of an internationally recognized independent Philippines, and his wife, First Lady Aurora Quezon.

Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center - is a 64.58-hectare (159.6-acre) zoological and botanical garden located in Diliman, Quezon City, the Philippines. It was named after Benigno S. "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. The Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center has a lagoon, an aquarium, a playground, botanical garden and a Wildlife Rescue Center, which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources uses as a temporary shelter where confiscated, retrieved, donated, sick, abandoned, and injured wild animals are placed to be taken care of. The park houses several indigenous plants and animals such as crab-eating macaques, water monitors, Philippine deer, binturongs, Palawan bearded pigs and several varieties of birds.

La Mesa Watershed Reservation - The La Mesa Watershed Reservation is a protected area that preserves the only major watershed in Metro Manila, Philippines. Also known as the Novaliches Watershed, it contains the last remaining rainforest of its size in Metro Manila surrounding the La Mesa Dam and Reservoir, the primary source of potable drinking water for 12 million residents in the Manila metropolitan area.

Balara Filters Park - The Balara Filters Park is a 60-hectare (150-acre) park located in the Diliman village adjacent to the University of the Philippines Diliman main campus. The park is one of the oldest recreation areas in Quezon City having been first opened to the public in 1953. It occupies part of the old Balara Filtration Plant complex, one of the main treatment facilities for water coming from the La Mesa Dam. The park is administered by the Manila Water company in partnership with the Quezon City Parks Development and Administration Department.

University of the Philippines Diliman - The University of the Philippines Diliman (also referred to as UPD or UP Diliman) is a coeducational, research state university located in Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. It was established on February 12, 1949 as the flagship campus and seat of administration of the University of the Philippines System, the national university of the Philippines. UP Diliman is the fourth oldest constituent university of UP. The University is known for being the largest university in the country in terms of its land territory and having wide tree-lined roads filled with lush trees. Also, the university' roads and gardens are open for outsiders and it has been a good place for jogging and relaxing.

Smart Araneta Coliseum - The Araneta Coliseum, known as The Big Dome, is an indoor multi-purpose sports arena located in the Cubao area of Quezon City, Philippines. It is one of the largest coliseums and indoor facilities in Asia, and it is also one of the largest clear span domes in the world. The dome measures approximately 108.0 meters making it the largest dome in Asia from its opening in 1960 until 2001 when it was surpassed by the Oita Stadium in Japan with a dome measuring 274.0 meters. However, on 2014, this record was broken by the New Singapore National Stadium that has a dome measuring 312.0 meters.

South Triangle District - the area bounded by Quezon Avenue (R-7), Timog Avenue (South Avenue) and EDSA is the location of main studios of ABS-CBN (including the radio stations DZMM Radyo Patrol 630 and MOR 101.9) and GMA Network (including the radio stations Super Radyo DZBB 594 and Barangay LS 97.1). Most Filipino entertainment shows and movies are produced here, and it is also home to many Filipino celebrities. As a result, it's often been dubbed the "Filipino Hollywood".

Surrounding Timog Avenue (South Avenue) and Tomas Morato Avenue is a popular entertainment area. Located along these two avenues are many fine-dining restaurants and bars. Discothèques, karaoke joints and comedy bars provide patrons with all-night long recreation.


Manila skyline in the early 20th century. The Intramuros, a fortified district can be seen in north of the Port Area. 
Devastated Manila in 1945 
Manila Central Post Office along the Pasig River 



Tourism Statistics[11]
Year Foreign
1996 1,049,367
1997 1,222,523
1998 1,149,357
1999 1,170,514
2000 1,992,169
2001 1,796,893
2002 1,932,677
2003 1,907,226
2004 2,291,347
2005 2,623,084
2006 2,843,335
2007 3,091,993
2008 3,139,422
2009 3,017,099
2010 3,520,471
2011 3,917,454
2012 4,272,811[12]
2013 4,681,307[13]
2014 4,833,368[14]
2015(Jan-Sep) 3,983,627[15]

Top 20 international visitors[edit]

Rank Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
1  South Korea 925,204 1,031,155 1,165,789 1,175,472 997,135
2  United States 624,527 652,626 674,564 722,750 577,508
3  Japan 375,496 412,474 433,705 463,744 380,815
4  China 243,137 250,883 426,352 394,951 373,795
5  Australia 170,736 191,150 213,023 224,784 170,706
6  Singapore 137,802 148,215 175,034 179,099 136,039
7  Taiwan 181,738 216,511 139,099 142,973 135,194
8  Malaysia 91,752 114,513 109,437 139,245 117,184
9  United Kingdom 112,106 113,282 122,759 133,665 112,360
10  Canada 117,423 123,699 131,381 143,899 109,852
11  Hong Kong 112,106 118,666 114,100 126,008 93,808
12  India 42,844 46,395 52,206 61,152 54,565
13  Germany 61,193 67,203 70,949 72,801 53,205
14  Saudi Arabia 27,945 30,040 38,969 43,483 40,453
15  Indonesia 34,542 36,627 45,582 46,757 35,904
16  France 29,591 33,709 39,042 38,946 34,173
17  Thailand 37,862 40,987 47,847 45,943 33,955
18  Guam 26,205
20  Vietnam 24,040
19  Russia 23,908 33,729 41,254 38,976 23,981


Crisologo Street in Vigan

An archipelago composed of 7,107 islands, the Philippines offers attractions such as the white sand beaches of Boracay, shopping centers of Metro Manila, rice terraces of Ifugao, diving sites of Palawan, forests of Bohol, heritage houses in Vigan, and the cultural attractions of Cebu and Manila.

The island of Luzon is considered the political and economic center of the Philippines. The economy of Luzon is centered in Metro Manila, the national capital region. Manila was ranked 11th most attractive city for American shoppers out of 25 Asia Pacific cities by a Global Blue survey in 2012.[16] Shopping malls can be found around the metropolis, especially in the business and financial districts of Makati, Ortigas and Bonifacio Global City. Despite the rise of modern shopping malls, traditional Filipino shopping centers such as flea markets and bazaars still remain around the metropolis.

The Visayas, the central island group of the Philippines, is the heart of the country's biodiversity. The most popular beach destination in Visayas is Boracay: the island is popular for its pure white sand beaches and has been a favorite island destination for local and foreign visitors.[17][18] In 2012, Boracay received the "best island" award from the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure.[19][20] Aside from its white sand beaches, Boracay is also a popular destination for relaxation, tranquility and an exciting nightlife.[21]

Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines, is known for its mountain ranges; it is one of the best climbing destinations in the Philippines. Mindanao is home to the country's highest mountain, Mount Apo. On average, it takes two days to reach the summit. The mountain has a wide range of flora and fauna, including over 272 bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area, including the national bird, the Philippine eagle.[22] Mount Apo has become a popular hiking destination for mountain climbers.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The best island in the world! Travellers vote the little-known Philippines outcrop of Palawan as the most exotic on Earth". Daily Mail UK. October 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Tourism Contributes 7.8 gdp". National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 2013-09-27. 
  3. ^ "Natural Resources and Environment in the Philippines". (n.d.). eTravel Pilipinas. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  4. ^ "The Philippines' best beaches and islands". CNN Travel. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "The Philippines Hosted 4.7 Million International Visitors in 2013". Department of Tourism. Retrieved March 22, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Tourism Department claims 2011 a banner year for the Philippines". 
  7. ^ "It's More Fun in the Philippines official website". 
  8. ^ Calderon, Justin (5 March 2013). "Philippine tourism to create 3.6m jobs". Inside Investor. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "WTTC: Tourism contributed P1.4T to economy". 
  11. ^ Department of Tourism (Philippines), Tourism Statistics, retrieved June 8, 2012 
  13. ^ "The Philippines Hosted 4.7 Million International Visitors in 2013". Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Tourism Industry Performance for 2014". Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ "January to September". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Manila 11th most attractive shopping destination in Asia Pacific –study". Yahoo! Philippines. Retrieved March 26, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Philippines' Boracay attracted 1.36 million tourists in 2013". Xinhua. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Boracay attracted record 1.36 million despite 'Yolanda'". PhilSatr. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ "BORACAY named 2012 No.1 World’s Best Island". Boracay Beach Live. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Boracay named world's 2nd best beach". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Relaxation, nightlife both more fun in Boracay". Yahoo! Philippines. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Profile - Mt. Apo Natural Park". Philippine Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. Retrieved on April 25, 2014.
  23. ^ "Climbing to the top of the Philippines". BBC Travel. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]