Filipinos join ‘conscious’ travel revolution — research

Published November 29, 2021, 4:49 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Majority of Filipino travelers are joining the rise of “conscious travelers” as they embrace the travel revolution with a laser focus on how they can ensure their trips create positive impact to the locals and their host communities, new research shows.

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New Airbnb-commissioned research and analysis by Economist Impact*, which surveyed more than 4,500 people across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific including the Philippines, found that over 80 percent of Filipinos polled said it’s important that their travel creates a positive impact for locals.

The rise of the ‘conscious traveler’ is increasingly presenting as an opportunity for communities to not only grow their local economies off the back of the travel rebound. It also welcomes an evolving form of empowering, win-win tourism that emphasizes genuine connection and supports the Philippine Department of Tourism’s 2022 recovery plan of a more sustainable and socially responsible industry.

The study also examined attitudes towards holistically sustainable travel that encompasses social, economic, cultural, community and environmental aspects. In the Philippines, creating equitable outcomes and income for locals, as well as engaging with new social experiences and meaningful connections, emerged as the top two most important aspects of sustainable travel for those surveyed.

Approximately 75 percent of Filipinos value using travel as a way to meaningfully connect with communities and culture. This includes immersing themselves in local communities when they travel.

Over 70 percent of respondents say they are more inclined to contribute to the local economy, and will factor this into where they travel and how they spend their money as they are conscious that communities are in need of economic recovery.

The study also showed that 76 percent of respondents said they will be more conscious when it comes to familiarizing themselves with what’s important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution. It also showed that 60 percent are willing to build sustainable tourism practices into their holiday plans. Here are the three practices they are most willing to engage in: forgo comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes; pay a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices; and avoid destinations faced with sustainability challenges.

Almost half of respondents said it is important that they’re not contributing to issues such as overtourism.

The research also highlights how the travel revolution is presenting new opportunities for rural areas, particularly those in emerging economies, as travelers become more open to exploring new ways of travelling and living.

For instance, over half of Filipinos polled plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are not currently popular with tourists. It also showed that 60 percent plan to take workcations or work remotely when they can. Looking ahead, 62 percent are planning to engage in more domestic travel than in the past, with the aim of allocating more of their travel budget within their own country.

“Following the pandemic, travellers are thinking more about the implications of their travel choices and decisions,” said Pratima Singh, Senior Manager for Policy and Insights at Economist Impact. “As demonstrated by our survey findings, we’re seeing a trend where people are attempting to make their travel decisions more sustainable—economically, culturally and environmentally—and hoping to have a more positive impact by benefiting local communities.”

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, said: “Just as the travel revolution is inspiring people to embrace flexibility and reimagine the ways they live and travel, so too is it spurring on the rise of the conscious traveler.

“In the wake of the disconnection and economic hardship brought by the pandemic, people are becoming increasingly thoughtful and deliberate about how they can use travel to make a positive contribution to the communities they’re visiting. They’re thinking deeply about how they can put their tourist dollars to best use and economically empower towns and rural communities that have struggled. And they’re looking to immerse themselves in these communities and forge meaningful connections, while also minimising any unintended negative impacts.

“Airbnb is committed to partnering with governments and communities to find ways to harness the travel revolution to deliver tangible and lasting benefits for everyone. It’s critically important that both industry and government come together to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”