Well done to Philippines with a solid (though less spectacular than in January 2012) start to the year in foreign tourist arrivals.
The jJnuary 2013 figures were up by six per cent to 436,079, a rise of 25,000 on January 2012.
That this was achieved despite 29 and 41 per cent drops in Hong Kong and mainland Chinese arrivals for January 2013 compared with January 2012 augurs well. Surprisingly, arrivals from Taiwan - unaffected by territorial disputes - dropped 26 per cent.
Amazingly, South Korean visitors were up an astounding 32 per cent for January to more than 134,000 while the surge from Malaysia that has been latterly evident with its increased direct flights continued as arrivals from that ASEAN nation rose 38 per cent.
Australian arrivals put in another great performance, up 21 per cent while Russian and CIS arrivals rose 18 and 26 per cent respectively, although both are way below the Australian contribution in raw numbers.
Neither Indonesia or Thailand are major sources of tourists for Philippines but they rose 13 and 19 per cent respectively which is encouraging.
Visitors from both the USA and Canada rose by four per cent which while not much of an increase has to be viewed in the light of the USA's ongoing relatively high unemployment and political discussions about cutting government spending that must make many consumers extremely nervous in an economic sense, presumably acting as a brake on spending.
Similarly visitors from the UK rose just one per cent but that nation is in recession, so any small rise is welcome. Total tourist numbers from western and northern Europe rose slightly between January 2012 and January 2013 which is not as gloomy a result as I would have predicted. Perhaps the sunny Filipino January skies and general warmth along with white sand islands are too tempting to ignore even if one's home country has huge levels of government debt.
Indian arrivals were up almost 31 per cent. Part must be due to how Philippines and India are numbers one and two respectively in call centre work. I have noticed more Indian businessmen writing reviews on TA for hotels in Metro Manila.
Saudi Arabian arrivals rose almost 49 per cent.
Overall this is a very solid performance given that January 2012 had a large increase on January 2011.
Of course, it also shows that the 2013 target of 5.5 million arrivals will be almost impossible to meet but in the current worldwide economic environment, any rise is a reasonable performance:
The great performance from South Korea may more than compensate for any weakness in mainland Chinese arrivals.
Many tourist associations seem to be obsessed with mainland Chinese arrivals. It is better to concentrate on encouraging arrivals from other ASEAN nations, the USA, Australia, Canada, northern Europe, Russia and when they recover economically the UK and western Europe because these other nations are less likely to slap a ban on some categories of departing tourists if their government suddenly becomes less friendly with Philippines.