ARE Filipinos slowing down on their foreign travels?
According to the latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer this appears to be the case. Filipinos spent only $5.79 billion in international tourism expenditures in the first half of 2019, a 4.6-percent decrease from their spending in the same period in 2018. In local currency, Filipinos spent just P306.87 billion from January to June 2019.
The decrease in foreign travels by Filipinos are also indicated by the slight 0.8-percent drop in passenger transport imports to $311 million in the first half of the year.
The trend has been evident since 2016, with spending on travel moving at a sluggish pace. For the full year 2018, spending grew by only 1.7 percent to $12 billion, slower than the 6.31-percent increase in travel spending to $11.8 billion in 2017.
The UNWTO data was supplied by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) based on its balance of payments statistics. International tourism expenditure is a services import, reported as “travel” in the BOP, which is an account of a country’s transactions with the rest of the world. Travel imports cover goods and services acquired from an economy by travelers for their own use during visits of less than one year in that economy for either business or personal purposes. This includes their travel using local transport, but excludes international transport, which is also a separate BOP account broken down into passenger, freight, and others, whether these be imports or exports.
In an interview, the Philippine
Travel Agencies Association’s Ritchie Tuaño said, however, “Our members seem to
be very happy with their current production. In addition, we have
National Tourism Offices [NTOs] of
Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and even crisis-stricken Hong Kong who reported the growth of Filipino arrivals into their respective countries. Generally, they have also noted the good spending of Filipinos.”
He added, “One more evidence of this is the road show and sales campaign of various foreign tour operators, either individually, as a consortium or as organized by their NTOs due to the lucrative Filipino market.”
Officials from the BSP’s Department of Economic Statistics failed to respond to e-mails from the BusinessMirror to explain how the travel expenditures and passenger travel data were calculated to explain the possible discrepancy.
Meanwhile, data from the World Tourism Barometer showed that China, the world’s top tourism outbound market in terms of both spending and departures, saw 81 million trips in the first half of 2019, up 14 percent over the same period last year, though spending was 4 percent lower in real terms in the first quarter.
“Among Asian markets, spending from Japan [+11 percent] was strong while the Republic of Korea spent 8 percent less in the first half of 2019.
The Korean won has lost value to the US dollar, amid United States-China trade tensions and recent political tensions between the Republic of Korea and Japan.”
Outbound travel demand from the United States, the second world’s largest spender, remained solid in January to June, with a 7-percent increase in spending supported by a strong dollar. The US dollar appreciated 7 percent against the euro in this six-month period, based on monthly averages.
Demand from source markets in the European Union was rather mixed. Spending on international tourism by France (+8 percent) and Italy (+7 percent) was robust, though Germany (+2 percent) reported more moderate figures in view of a weaker economy. The United Kingdom saw spending grow 3 percent through March. Spain and Portugal’s spending increased in double-digits (both +10 percent), reflecting strong appetite for travel.