Foreign Arrivals in Philippines Rise, Despite Travel Advisories

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The Philippines is reporting an increase of almost 20 percent in foreign visitors last year, despite advisories issued in several countries over a fatal tourist bus hijacking and fears of a terrorist attack.

Authorities said Monday that more than 3.4 million foreigners traveled to the Philippines during 2010 compared to fewer than 2.9 million the previous year. Immigration officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma issued a statement saying the foreign advisories “did not have any impact at all.”

China and Hong Kong advised their citizens against travel to the Philippines after a bus hijacking in August that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead. Philippines police were accused of mishandling the attempt to rescue the hostages.

Several countries, including Australia, Britain, France and the United States, issued travel warnings in November saying a terrorist attack was imminent.

No attack materialized and Ledesma said the number of arrivals was highest during the last three months of the year.

The figures released Monday include all travelers arriving with foreign passports for any purpose. However, authorities said the numbers are consistent with the country’s stated goal of attracting 3.3 million tourists during the year.

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