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The Associated Press April 26, 2011, 4:15AM ET

Philippines aims to double tourist arrivals

The Philippines is aiming to nearly double foreign tourist arrivals to 6 million by 2016 with an eye on shoppers and big spenders.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim says close to 670,000 tourists visited the Southeast Asian archipelago in the first two months of this year, an 18 percent rise.

With 3.5 million tourists last year, the Philippines still lags behind its neighbors.

Lim said Tuesday that the new civil aviation liberalization policy, construction of 9,500 new hotel rooms in the next three years and programs to train small businesses to cash in on tourist shopping are expected to raise tourism revenues and jobs.

Tourism now accounts for 6 percent of gross domestic product and employs 3.4 million Filipinos.

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