Here’s some good news: local tourism isn’t dead.

Despite everything that went down last year (including Boracay’s closure and maintaining efforts towards Marawi’s rehabilitation), the Department of Tourism (DOT) now says that a record-breaking number of people arrived on Philippine shores.

2018 welcomed 7.1 million visitors—a 7.65% increase from 2017’s 6.6 million visitors. South Korean nationals topped the list, with 1.58 million tourist arrivals. Chinese citizens ranked second with 1.25 million tourist arrivals while people from places such as the USA, Australia, and Japan also formed a significant percentage of our tourist arrivals.

With Boracay’s closure, many people had expected a drop in tourism, but surprisingly enough, it had the opposite effect. According to DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat, Boracay’s closure paved the way for foreigners to appreciate other tourist destinations such as Iloilo, Siargao, Siquijor, and Romblon. And about time too! We’ve always believed that there are about 7,641 other Philippine islands out there that deserve recognition.

If you’re interested in discovering more about the Philippines, check out our On the Fly series, where we go around the country to rediscover local destinations! Read up on our adventures in Coron, Siargao, and Batanes and keep a look out for more of our local exploits soon to come.

Photo courtesy of @saltinourhair on Instagram

And while it is the DOT’s goal to promote “high-quality” tourism over “mass tourism” this year (to prevent the arrival of irresponsible tourists who will litter on our beaches), we can’t help but hope that the world will finally discover the hidden gems in these pearls of the Orient.

So now tell us: which part of the Philippines are you most excited for the world to get to know?

Header image by Louie Martinez on Unsplash

Article cover by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash