Cebu 2nd Most Preferred International Tourist Destination in Jan-Dec 2019

So far, data from January up to November 2019 (not the whole of 2019 yet as others have published) is showing robust 2 digit year-on-year growth of international tourist arrivals in the Philippines as a whole.

During the said period, the country hosted 7.4M foreign tourists in total which is 15.56% higher compared to the same period in 2018.

This time around, Boracay beats Cebu for the top spot with 1.6M tourist arrivals as opposed to Cebu’s 1.4M. Davao clinched the bronze here with 1.3M so far.

At 1.4M foreign arrivals however, Cebu is looking to have had much fewer relative to the 2018 data that said to have 2,805,115 (check here to verify). That’s a staggering 1.4M+ in lesser with only 1 month (December of 2019) worth of data lacking.

Now you might think December’s data could still push this number which is in fact true but basing from the 2018 data, it appears the December surge isn’t going to do much – maybe at most add about 200,000 only basing the 2018 trend below:

2018 MCIA International Passengers Data
As you can see, surely there is an increase of international tourist arrivals on December but that’s only about 35%. Data is from MCIA.

I honestly am unsure why this is happening given our Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) just opened its much improved, and award winning terminals. Not to mention the number of new direct international flights that have been opened in the same year.

Maybe I’m missing something here? Please do let me know if you think there’s data I’m missing so I can adjust this accordingly.

Where the International Tourists Comes From

South Koreans remain on the top spot for the most visits in this period with 1,785,357 on record. China, the fastest growing tourist market in our country so far, sits at 2nd place with 1,626,309. Those coming from the USA takes the 3rd place with 954,952.

I think this shouldn’t be much of a concern really had the ongoing Wuhan novel corona virus (n-Cov) didn’t happen. But just so you know, the number of international Chinese in this period grew 40.2% compared to the same period in 2018.

In fact, Chinese Consul General Jia Li said last year that we should expect more Chinese tourist in 2019 which indeed happened based on this Jan-Dec 2019 data.

The 2018 figure states that 630,000 Chinese tourist visited Cebu in 2018, a number 45% higher compared to 2017. The significant growth can be attributed to about 36 direct flights from Cebu to cities in China among others.

Boracay Fights Back

I for me love friendly competition. It adds spice to life so-to-speak. In case you missed it, Cebu overtook Boracay in last year’s Travel + Leisure’s Best Islands in Asia survey. More on that here:

I can only assume that Boracay’s rehabilitation contributed to this result as I’m sure the demand surged once it was re-opened once again.

Cebu’s Improvements in 2020

I do feel quite optimistic that more improvements including the ongoing upgrading of Bantayan Island’s airport will help Cebu’s fight for the top spot in the international tourist market.

What do you think our chances are in being on top of this list for 2020? Please share your thoughts below.