Hong Kong is maintaining its rank as a leading source of tourists to the Philippines with visitor numbers increasing despite the economic downturn. Just under 160,000 tourists from the SAR were counted last year - the fourth biggest source after the United States, Japan and Taiwan. Hong Kong's tourist tally - which reaches its peak at Chinese New Year, August and Christmas - rose another 18.7 per cent in the first three months of this year to 46,000. 'The strong performance of the tourist industry was a result of intensified marketing campaigns,' said Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor. For the next two months, a 'Sale of the Century' shopping promotion aims to attract even greater numbers. Stores will offer up to 60 per cent discounts as part of the President's campaign to transform the Philippines into 'Asia's Shopping Paradise'. The government earmarked tourism as a priority foreign exchange earner - and the campaign paid off. Last year, the industry accounted for 8.7 per cent of all earnings and 2.3 million jobs. Boracay, Cebu and Palawan remain the favoured destinations but priority tourism developments are underway in Davao, Bohol's Panglao island and Bicol.