Filipino leisure travelers could start gradual recovery of local tourism – travel survey

Published June 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hanah Tabios

The quick return of Filipino leisure travelers to the Philippines’ local travel destinations could be a possible silver lining for the gradual recovery of the country’s tourism industry, according to the results of a recent travel survey.

This was among the key insights revealed during Monday’s webinar, where head researchers from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM)—Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism and Guide to the Philippine shared the results of the Philippine Travel Survey conducted last May 15 to 24, 2020 for a pool of 12, 732 respondents from all 81 provinces in the country.

This was made in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT). It aims to deliver insights on the pandemic’s effects on domestic and international tourism, as well as on Filipino’s travel behavior in the post-COVID-19 new normal environment.

The results said domestic travel will lead the recovery of the country’s tourism industry with Filipino travelers expecting to go to destinations closer to home once quarantine restrictions have been lifted.

“We should therefore take into consideration the preferences of local travelers and understand how they will make decisions when it comes to traveling in a post-pandemic world. Until international borders open up again, our industry will depend on domestic travel to kickstart recovery,” she said in her opening speech during the webinar.

This holds true that even with  the current situation, 77 percent of the respondents are willing to travel domestically even in the absence of a proven vaccine, noting that 48 percent are expected to travel domestically within six months from lifting of travel restrictions.

Popular local tourist spots, especially beaches, are expected to see a surge in visitors. Tourist magnets Boracay, Siargao, and Baguio topped the list of destinations to visit when travel is permitted again. Those are followed by Metro Manila, Cebu, El Nido and Coron in Palawan, Batangas, Bohol, and La Union.

Meanwhile, only 26 percent showed willingness to travel internationally within the same period.

“Travelers also indicated a preference for travel to nearby countries with 37 percent planning to travel to East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, Macau, while 30 percent plan to travel within the ASEAN region (Singapore, Thailand,  Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Brunei) once restrictions are lifted,” it said.

Majority of respondents also prefer activities they deem “safe” with limited face-to-face interaction. Top travel activities that are high on their minds are beach trips, road trips, and “staycations” at 69, 54, and 41 percent, respectively.

However, with the pandemic’s economic repercussion, travelers expect a reduction in income and travel budget.

Seventy-four percent foresee a reduction in their income, while 44 percent see a reduction in their travel budget.

These two factors are correlated since income reduction appears to influence travel budget reduction, survey results said.

But despite Filipinos’ willingness to travel quickly after quarantine guidelines have been eased, their main concern remains health and safety. Economic or financial concerns follow, while lifestyle concerns rank the lowest.

More than 80 percent of respondents expect tourism establishments to follow best practices in sanitation and health.

Respondents also express willingness to comply with existing health and safety protocols, such as undergoing rapid COVID-19 tests prior to departure and submitting a medical certificate before traveling.

Earlier this month, the DOT released the new health and safety guidelines in the new normal to local tourism-related sectors such as hotels, resorts, tourist transportation, surfing and restaurants in anticipation of their reopening.

The department also introduced digital solutions which are now offered for free to DOT-accredited tourism establishments primarily for contactless transactions.

Same with arranging reservations, 73 percent said they prefer to book travel arrangements through direct online channels, while 86 percent of travelers expect tourism enterprises to implement self-service processes, such as contactless check-in, online booking, digital payments, and the like.

The tourism department said the survey represents the data-driven efforts of the DOT and tourism stakeholders to restart the local travel industry, which had been gravely affected by restrictions caused by the pandemic.