Secretary of Tourism, Christina Frasco FACEBOOK CRISTINA FRASCO

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines recorded a travel trade surplus for the first time in 16 years, with $2.45 billion in net tourism receipts recorded last year, based on official data.

The latter country recorded a surplus in travel services in 2007 of 1.93 billion dollars.

Travel trade refers to transactions involving goods and services purchased by tourists during a visit to another country.

READ: Recovery of the tourism industry exceeds target and attracts more than 5.5 million visitors in 2023

The travel trade surplus meant that last year, foreign tourists in the Philippines spent more than Filipino tourists in other countries.

Goods and services purchased by foreigners in the Philippines are considered export earnings to the Philippines, while goods and services purchased by Filipino tourists in other countries are considered Philippine imports.

Positive sign

The Philippines welcomed 5.45 million international visitors in 2023, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

READ: More than 1.2 million international visitors arrived in the first two months of 2024 – DOT

Preliminary data from the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) for the full year 2023 recorded export revenues from travel services of US$9.1 billion, it said.

This represents more than double the $4.17 billion in tourism export revenue recorded in 2022, but below the $9.7 billion recorded in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, BSP data recorded imports of travel services of US$6.6 billion last year.

This generated $2.45 billion in net travel trade surplus in 2023.

Since 2008, the country has recorded a travel trade deficit, with the largest travel trade deficit recorded in 2015, at US$6.07 billion.

The DOT said travel services contributed an 18.9 percent share in the country's total services exports of $48.28 billion last year.

In a statement, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said BSP data on travel trade surplus “sets an optimistic tone” for the country’s tourism prospects after “the last few difficult years.”

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“As we continue to work towards achieving our goals for 2024 and beyond, we strive to consolidate tourism’s position as an important economic pillar of the country,” she said. INQ