International tourist arrivals in Cebu reached 284,059 during the first semester of the year, an 8.2 percent growth from last year's 262,539 arrivals.
The growth in foreign tourists arrivals in Cebu is higher than the national growth rate of 7.4 percent. The country?s foreign tourists reached nearly 1.4 million during the first semester of 2008.
Around 1.3 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2007, based on data presented by Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Phineas Alburo earlier this week.
Alburo said the Philippines has projected between 3.4 to 3.5 million tourists to ?visit and explore tourist destinations? this year.
The average tourist growth rate is at seven percent to nine percent, Tourism Secretary Joseph ?Ace? Durano said in an interview recently.
However, Durano clarified that growth should be evaluated based on number of tourist arrivals and tourist spending.
?The real story is in the tremendous increase in tourist spending which may be obtained from shopping, adventure tourism activities and spa and wellness services,? Durano said.
Despite rising prices of fuel and basic commodities, Alburo said the tourism sector remains optimistic that they would reach their target as more direct flights opened between Cebu and international points.
He said the presence of China-based airlines plying direct charted flights from Cebu to Shanghai, Nanning and Guanzhou (and vice versa) would ensure continuous tourist flow at least by the end of the year.
Three Chinese airlines namely China Eastern, China Southern and Shanghai Airlines are now operating direct flights to Cebu.
The other direct flights to Cebu, such as those for Mumbai and New Delhi in India and Vladivostok in Russia, are still under negotiation. The tourists from these two countries are known to be big spenders.