Relaxed health protocols that are standard across tourism destinations and personalized packages will encourage more Filipinos to travel locally.
These are some of the salient points obtained from the online survey conducted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) from November 28 to December 30, 2020, in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) – Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines (GTTP).
“The travel and tourism industry has been beset by myriad challenges and changes since the start of the pandemic, and through our national travel survey, we have gained vital insights into the most pressing requirements and needs of both tourists and industry stakeholders. Armed with this wealth of information, we are able to determine the issues that need to be addressed as we continue to craft and implement strategies that seek to uplift the nation’s tourism industry,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday (February 17) during a Press Conference at the Plaza Moriones in Intramuros, Manila to discuss the survey’s results.
Titled “The Evolving Landscape of Domestic Travel in the Philippines: A study of travelers and tourism enterprises amidst the pandemic”, the two-pronged survey gathered responses from a total of 7,243 travelers across all 78 provinces in the country, and from 108 tourism enterprises with the objective of getting their sentiments on the “new normal” of travel that will serve as inputs to the DOT’s strategies to jumpstart the tourism industry.
Among the common traveler sentiments that were obtained through the survey are:
- Travelling is perceived as an answer to keeping their sanity;
- Travel behavior has changed thereby opening opportunities for introducing new travel products and services;
- Travel and safety protocols need to be standardized;
- Travelling can be personalized; and
- Travelers’ preferences have evolved.
Most of the respondents perceive travel as a way to keep their sanity, hence, a priority expense that is planned for and budgeted. Respondents from the 31-40 and 41-50 age groups are willing to spend Php 1,000 to Php 3,500 for traveling after the pandemic, while respondents that are 60 years old and above specified a higher budget of Php 3,500 to Php 5,000.
Survey results showed that for price-sensitive travelers, travel can be simplified by offering tourism destinations with the most relaxed health protocols, particularly those with reduced cost and frequency of COVID-19 testing requirements. On the other hand, value-sensitive travelers prefer taking trips that are personalized or tailored according to their needs and objectives for the next two or three years.
Puyat said that in order to help travel agencies and tour operators enhance their travel packages and services, the DOT shall roll out product and market development initiatives such as business-to-business meetings, benchmarking, product audit, and familiarization tours that feature new sites and attractions that will appeal to more people to travel locally.
The survey results also showed that traveler preferences have also evolved, with most respondents choosing outdoor activities in well-ventilated areas such as going to the beach, hiking, and biking in their leisure travels. Additionally, respondents prefer to travel with family members, with safety as the primary reason.
“As gathered from the national travel survey, there is clamor for more outdoor tourism activities, historical and cultural destinations,” shared Puyat.
Puyat visited some of the most famous sites inside the Walled City on its first day of reopening to tourists, following the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow operations of some businesses and industries, including limited tourist attractions such as parks, theme parks, natural sites, and historical sites, in its Resolution 99.
Pointing out how the pandemic “drastically changed people’s relation with streets, public spaces, and public facilities,” the tourism chief cited the timely reopening of Intramuros to attract visitors with its accessible open spaces that allow movement within dense urban areas. “With the easing of quarantine restrictions while the recommended health and safety protocols remain in place, Intramuros is ready and prepared to welcome back the public to the city’s many plazas, open spaces, heritage sites, and museums,” enthused Puyat.
In terms of proximity, results showed that travelers also traveled close to home, with the exception of Metro Manila which welcomed travelers from across the country. This supports the findings from the initial survey conducted by the DOT, AIM, and GTTP in May 2020.
Meanwhile, the main survey findings for tourism enterprises were:
- The stability of public health is perceived as the minimum requirement to accelerate the opening of local tourism;
- A standardized set of health protocols and requirements are needed to promote tourist activity;
- Financial survival (cash flow) remains to be the most pressing concerns of tourism enterprises; and
- Assistance in the form of advising is needed by tourism enterprises. Marketing and promotions of tourism products and services remain to be the key point of intervention, followed by financial assistance.
Puyat reiterated the DOT’s call for uniformed travel protocols across tourism destinations, which survey respondents pointed out as the top source of travel inconvenience.
“As always, we shall be taking a multi-lateral approach to address current issues relating to the pandemic, working more closely with local government units, stakeholders, and local communities. Guided by the new survey results, the DOT and its partners will be able to plot the crucial next steps for the recovery of the tourism industry, creating better, more efficient, and effective strategies where there is mutual and inclusive growth for all,” Puyat said.