Iloilo City Ready for Foreign Tourists

Iloilo police sm city

The Department of Tourism (DOT) in Western Visayas,  the region where my Filipina asawa have resided since July 2009,  has declared Iloilo City one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines.  “The City of Love”  is second to Boracay Island with most number of events, facilities and hotels. 

Iloilo City is ready to accommodate foreign tourists according to DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas. She states there are 3,000 hotel rooms available in the city.

Downtown Iloilo City

It was reported that visitor arrivals in Western Visayas reached 2.1 million in  2012. The top five markets are: Korea with a total of 184,992 arrivals; Taiwan with 93,407; China with 84,186; United States with 20,603; and Australia with 15,237.

Arrivals at Iloilo International Airport in November 2012 totaled 1,510, which was doubled to 3,219 arrivals in December 2012 due to the opening of direct international flights with leading arrivals of Filipinos, especially OFWs, Overseas Filipino Workers,  from Singapore, USA, Australia, Korea, and China.  (Source: Sun Star Iloilo)

Why does Korea top the list of foreign visitors to Iloilo? One of the reasons is that many Korean families send their sons or daughters to learn English in the Philippines, with Iloilo City being one of their major destinations. There are an estimated 3,000 students studying in the city schools.  There are several English language academies in and around the city that cater almost exclusively to Korean students.

The Philippines Expat Advisor and Essential Expat Handbook Sale - Iloilo City Ready for Foreign Tourists

University of Philippines in Iloilo City

Many South Koreans living in the Philippines are attracted to the low cost of English-language education and housing, both significantly cheaper than those offered in their native South Korea. The warmer climate is yet another motivating factor for the recent surge in migration.

The Philippines is also a popular destination for retired South Koreans on fixed pensions; the Filipino government actively promotes the settlement of South Korean retirees in the country because of the potential lucrative opportunities for the local economy. Koreans are attracted to the relative peace and order in Iloilo City, according to former mayor Jerry Treñas (Source: Wikipedia)

Go to SM City in Iloilo on any given day and you’ll find a large contingent of young Koreans roaming the mall. Or visit Raymen Beach in nearby Guimaras on a weekend. You’ll probably see Korean visitors there also such as the one pictured in the photo below. 

Korean girl on Raymen Beach in Guimaras

Catalbas said more than one million Korean tourists are expected to travel in Asian countries in 2013 and the Philippines will have a major share of the tourists.  And with the ongoing MegaWorld development and Twin Peaks Gaisano City Iloilo Center in the Manduriao district, that is to be completed in 2015, Iloilo City is growing and should continue to capture a fair share of foreign visitors to the Philippines. 

Author: The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 19 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Shepherd called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people in the last two years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

12 thoughts on “Iloilo City Ready for Foreign Tourists

  1. Dave,
    I can understand why foreigners ar attracted to Iloilo. I know Anne and Myself were really impressed when we were there. The cleanliness, friendly people, great mall, closeness of Guimaras and wonderful friends make it a good place to live. We are considering living there maybe on a parttime basis. Have a nice day.

    1. Melinda and I certainly enjoying living in Iloilo, PapaDuck, and would encourage any future expats to consider checking it out. Lots of facilities with friendly people. There’s no perfect place, but for us, Iloilo meets our needs. Be great to have both Anne and yourself living here on a part-time basis. Hope that works out.

  2. It looks nicer than where I live. Maybe I picked the wrong place! Just kidding….gotta’ live where the family is (according to the asawa!) I think you have found a terrific place to live. Now, if you could just eliminate those dogs…!

    1. That’s the main reason for living here, of course, Ice Man, the proximity to my asawa’s relatives. With our new location, we’re about two hours travel time from the head clan in nearby Guimaras. Gives us some breathing room. The dogs? Yeah, they’re a pain in the butt. And the main problem is not really the stray dogs, it’s irresponsible pet owners that let their animals run loose.

  3. Hey Dave, when you start to tire of all the hustle and bustle of “all the above” in the big city, you can always come visit us in the City of Waterfalls – Calbayog City, for some rest and relaxation! lol. Like you and most everybody else, the place we all settle into is usually the place that’s most convenient to family. After all, isn’t that one of the major cultural draws of living in the Philippines?
    Family – More Close in the Philippines. 😉

    1. Yep, you’re right RandyL. One of the major factors of retiring to the Philippines was to have my asawa closer to her family. Since she’s married to an old geezer 13 years older than she is, I figure I’m going to kick off first. I know that my wife won’t be shuttled away to some nursing home when I pass away. The family will take care of her.

  4. Dave, did Melinda ever get her US citizenship? Teri and I have discussed it in length and we really see no advantage to her. She has no family in the US and has no plans to ever return. The only benefit to the US is that she would still be responsible for taxes on her retirement income. The jury is still out on this one.

    1. Nope, Melinda never got her US citizenship, RandyL. We never saw any advantage to it either. She is a lawful permanent resident with her “green card” (though that expires next year.) If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more.

      If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the U.S. Re-entry permits are generally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. Therefore, if you are outside of the U.S. longer than the date the permit was issued, you may be denied entry into the U.S. My asawa cannot return to the United States without first obtaining a re-entry permit, an Application for a Travel Document (I-131) with the USCIS. We have no plans to return to the US and since my wife has been gone over three years, she would have to apply for the re-entry permit.

      Because my wife lived in the United States for nine years she can obtain my Social Security benefits. The Social Security website lists a minimum five year requirement in order for a foreign spouse to be entitled to benefits. If I have started to collect my Social Security (next year, February 2014) and then kick off, she can collect it when she turns age 60.

      Long answer to your question. The only advantage for citizenship might be if the person was planning to enter and re-enter the Philippines and stayed longer than a year. Wouldn’t have the hassle of the re-entry permit, I suppose.

  5. Teri will be able to collect her own social security if I’m still around then when I’m gone she will then get the greater of the two. Even without citizenship she is entitled to SS. Medicare will be lost though if she forfeits the green card. Did Melinda ever get vested in SSA?

    1. Yep, even without citizenship, Melinda can collect my Social Security. She didn’t work long enough to earn Social Security on her own. I think she would’ve have had to work another five years in the States. It wasn’t worth it for us to stay for that.

  6. 10 quarters (10 years) contributing to SSA is required. I forgot she was only there for 5 years. To keep the green card would only benefit her in the way of medicare, but she would have to travel to Guam to use it. With my insurance and with Philhealth, there is no real need for medicare. Things could change though!

    1. Yep, we have Philhealth, Randy, P1,000 a year and that’s for both of us. We also have healthcare insurance from my former employer, AT&T. Does not cost me a cent, only small co-payments if we use it, but would also go to Guam if the situation warranted it.

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