The Philippines greeted 2.86 million international tourists during January-July, an increase of 2.2 percent from the same period in 2013.

By the end of July, the Republic of Korea topped the arrivals with 662,228, followed by the US with 444,793 people, according to the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO).

During the reviewed time, over 268,000 Chinese visited the country despite the current territory dispute over the East Sea, jumping 8.5 percent from the same period a year earlier. The figure, which was less than a tenth of the total visitors welcomed by the Philippines, placed China in the third position.

Tourism is the country’s fourth largest hard currency earner. In the first seven months of the year, the sector earned 126.33 billion pesos (over 2.8 billion USD) in revenue, which showed a rise of 15.3 percent from the same period last year.

Aiming to receive 6.8 million foreign tourists this year, the tourism sector has offered diverse tourist products, such as medical and wellness travel, and education tours.

Joining the effort, the government provided free visa exemption for tourists from Belize, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who have often stayed longer in the country.

Visa exemption is being considered for Chinese and Indian tourists, SEPO said.-VNA