Domestic travel to drive recovery of tourism industry in Philippines

Domestic travel to drive recovery of tourism industry in Philippines

Expert Reports  

A recent survey conducted on the pandemic’s effects on domestic and international tourism and on Filipinos’ travel behavior in the post-Covid-19 ‘new normal’ revealed that it is no different from the trend in other parts of the world.

Again, like the current trend globally, domestic travel will lead the recovery of the Philippines’ tourism industry with Filipino travelers expecting to go to destinations closer to home and spending less in the midst of health concerns caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) released the report titled ‘Philippine Travel Survey: Insights on Filipino Travel Behavior Post-COVID 19’ to various tourism stakeholders in a webinar on June 29.

The key insights of the survey, which was conducted in May among over 12,000 respondents across the country, were: Domestic leisure travel will lead the recovery of Philippine tourism; Majority of travelers expect a reduction of their income and travel budget; Health and safety remains the primary concern of travelers; Travelers prefer reduced-contact activities once leisure travel restrictions are lifted; Travelers prefer online and digital channels for convenience and reduced contact; and Travelers plan to travel close to home.

The survey also found that domestic travel will lead the recovery of the Philippine travel industry, with 77 percent of respondents expressing their willingness to travel to local destinations once restrictions are lifted.

More than half of the respondents also look forward to travel for leisure or vacation, even in the absence of a vaccine against Covid-19. Popular local tourist spots, especially beaches, are expected to see a surge in visitors.

Boracay, Siargao and Baguio top the list of destinations to visit when travel is permitted again. Filipinos also prefer to travel to destinations closer to home. The majority of the 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.

Domestic travel will be the main priority as fewer people are likely to travel internationally in the near future. This is due to reduced incomes and travel budgets in the light of the pandemic’s impact on the economy. Travelers are also less likely to buy travel deals and packages anytime soon.

Domestic tourism is the biggest contributor to the Philippine tourism industry with PHP3.14 trillion in earnings. This is 10.8 percent of the tourism industry’s 12.7-percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

Although Filipinos expressed a desire to travel as soon as restrictions are lifted, their main concern is still their health and safety. At least 88 percent of 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 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.