Quezon City - The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is actively coordinating with other government agencies to expand international flight routes and increase seat capacity to the country, aiming to surpass pre-pandemic tourism numbers.

According to Philippines News Agency, who spoke at the Kapihan sa Bagong Pilipinas, the country's air transport capacity has already rebounded to more than 90 percent of its pre-pandemic levels, with further growth anticipated. "In terms of connectivity, our routes development team is tirelessly working to collaborate with the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and other government agencies to create more flights to the Philippines, to enhance our existing routes, and develop new ones for air and sea travel across key strategic and opportunity markets," Zabala-Batin explained.

Data from the DOT indicates that in 2023, international flight seating capacity reached 19,112,040 seats, achieving at least 94 percent of the pre-pandemic levels, which were at 20,314,865 seats. Domestic flights have seen a significant recovery, reaching 99 percent of their 2019 capacity at 36,433,138 seats.

The DOT and the Department of Transportation recently boosted their international outreach by signing an agreement with South Korea to increase the weekly seating capacity on flights between Manila and Incheon from 20,000 to 30,000 seats. South Korea remains the top source of inbound visitors to the Philippines, with approximately 1.45 million tourists in 2023. The United States, Japan, Australia, China, Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia follow as significant markets.

Zabala-Batin also highlighted efforts to target the Indian market, which ranks 13th with 70,286 arrivals in 2023. She noted the government's initiatives to ease visa entry, diversify the tourism portfolio, and increase digitalization in tourism as key strategies to attract more visitors.

Looking ahead, the DOT aims to break its record by attracting 7.7 million visitors by the end of 2024.

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