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2014 Manila – NCR Visayas (includes Boracay, Panglao, Cebu) Rest of Luzon inc. Palawan Mindanao
Total Number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals 1.1 million 2.5 million 2.8 million 273,800
Share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals 17% 37% 42% 4%

What’s wrong with this picture?


First of all, it seems to say that the country had 6.5 Million total foreign tourist arrivals. This conflicts with what the World Bank reports, which is more like 5 million.

Therefore these figures must include some kind of double-counting. Let us call them honest mistakes involving 35% of the totals.

Let’s look a little at the figures for Visayas. Where does this 2.5 Million number supposedly come from? It comes from NAIA-Manila and Cebu-Mactan International Airport. When a tourist arrives, he is asked to fill out a form saying where he is headed. 2.5 Million people said Boracay, Panglao, Cebu, or several other destinations in the Visayas. So far, so good.

Now look at the figure for “Rest of Luzon including Palawan” – 2.8 million, more than Aklan-Boracay, Bohol, and Cebu (“the ABBC of Philippine tourism”) combined?

To simplify the discussion, do you honestly believe that a foreign tourist would come from, say, Hong Kong, to visit Nueva Ecija (no offense, kabayan)? So what are the plausible, possible tourist destinations? Ilocos, Baguio, Bicol, Palawan. (Batanes has about 150 hotel rooms, so it’s just not in the running.)

Consider that world-famous Boracay only registered 800,000 arrivals. In light of this, would you therefore believe that Ilocos, Baguio, Bicol, and Palawan together drew 2.8 Million tourists? That each of these was practically as big a tourist destination as Boracay?

Not a chance.

But wait, there’s more: Palawan, just voted the World’s Best Island, actually tallied only about 200,000 arrivals. Now, do you really believe that, while Palawan attracted only 200,000 visitors, a whopping 2.6 Million more foreign tourists went to Bicol, Ilocos, and Baguio?

These figures are so unbelievable to anyone who can do arithmetic, so contrary to common sense, that one would have to think they are – uummh – figments of someone’s imagination? Statistics that were accidentally mangled? Deliberate fabrications designed to fool the nation’s leaders? Or merely honest clerical errors?

Whatever they are, one thing they cannot be is a fair representation of the truth.

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