Poll: Pinoys to trim travel budgets with lower wages

DOMESTIC tourists will be trimming their vacation budgets, even as they are likely to visit “Sun and Beach” destinations that require plane rides, once Covid travel restrictions are lifted. In fact, Boracay, the so-called crown jewel of Philippine tourism, remains top of mind of many bakasyonistas, according to a government-sponsored travel survey.

In the Philippine Travel Survey Report commissioned by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and undertaken with the Asian Institute of Management and Guide to the Philippines, 44 percent of the 12,732 respondents see a reduction in their travel budgets, primarily because a majority (74 percent) project a cut in their incomes from 10 percent to over 50 percent.  However, “for those expecting greater than 50-percent income reduction, it is interesting to note that majority still expect to reduce their travel budgets rather than completely eliminating it,” according to the survey which was presented at a webinar on Monday.

The survey was undertaken from May 15 to 24, with respondents coming from 81 provinces, and aged 22-40 years old (60 percent). A large majority are college graduates (98 percent), work in the private sector (47 percent), and earn between P20,000 and P40,000 a month (27 percent). Most enjoyed 2-3 days  in their domestic leisure trips (47 percent), traveled in groups of 2 to 5 (74 percent), and spent P1,000 to P2,000 per day on accommodation, transport, food and activities (29 percent).

The survey also indicated 42 percent of the respondents are “highly unlikely to purchase travel deals or promotions during this time.” This can be attributed to their concerns on safety, expected reduction in income, and travel restrictions.

Boracay was named a top choice among travelers for their leisure destination (13.7 percent) especially by those from the National Capital Region, Calabarzon and Western Visayas, while the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon and Northern Mindanao had it as their second or third choice.

Other top destinations included Siargao (9.21 percent), Baguio (9.21 percent), Metro Manila (8.5 percent), Cebu (7.17 percent), El Nido (6.75 percent), Coron (6.28 percent), Batangas (5.49 percent), Bohol (4.59 percent) and La Union (4.2 percent).

“We believe in a collaborative approach to recovery,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat at the webinar. “The survey, which was distributed online, sought the sentiments and concerns that respondents have concerning domestic travel in light of the pandemic, in order to provide insights to tourism enterprises to better prepare, respond, and serve guests and tourists again.”

The DOT chief unveiled preliminary results of the survey in a separate webinar last week, saying consumers preferred to travel in small groups, but  want to engage in high-value, experiential activities.

(See, “Changes in hotel ownership, branding seen post-Covid,” in the BusinessMirror, June 29, 2020.)

Majority of the travelers are also willing to adhere to health and safety protocols as travel policies, such as providing complete and accurate travel histories (98 percent), undergoing rapid Covid tests prior to departure (90 percent), submitting a medical certificate prior to travel (88 percent), and being on home quarantine (90 percent). However, only 13 percent of the respondents favored being quarantined at a government hospital.

Staying in a hotel or resort, traveling solo, or going on private tours are considered the safest touristic activities by majority of the survey respondents, or activities with limited exposure to crowds. They also prefer going to the beach (69 percent), road trips (54 percent), and staycations as top travel activities.

Domestic tourism is the biggest contributor to the Philippine tourism industry with P3.14 trillion in earnings. This accounts for 10.8 percent of the tourism industry’s 12.7-percent contribution to the country’s gross domestic product last year.

Due to the relative youth of majority of the travelers, nearly half of them will book with online travel agencies and aggregators. Majority of the respondents (86 percent) also expect tourism establishments to implement self-service processes such as contactless check-in and digital payments.

Image Credits: Julie Mayfeng | Dreamstime.com

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