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Pinoys traveled mostly for leisure trips in 2020; many were workers

Infograph courtesy DOT

OVER 1.48 million Filipinos left the country in 2020, most of them for holiday and leisure purposes.

According to data presented by Department of Tourism’s (DOT) OIC-Director for Tourism Development Planning, Research and Research Management Warner Andrada in an online presser on Monday, of the total outbound travelers, foreigners were 1,754.

Citing the Bureau of Immigration’s arrival/departure cards, some 24 percent left on holiday and leisure purposes, and 10.56 percent left for health/medical reasons. Of the total outbound travelers, there was an almost equivalent number of males and females at 49.23 percent and 50.42 percent of total, respectively. Less than 1 percent did not state their sex.

Most of those who departed last year were seafarers (16.3 percent of total) and laborers (11.47 percent)—almost 28 percent—while   professionals accounted for 23.21 percent.

Andrada told the BusinessMirror, however, he could not conclude that these seafarers and laborers were leaving for jobs abroad on tourist visas, even if   most of the outbound travelers go on trips largely for leisure. “It may or may not be but our data comes only from the departure cards and there is no entry on the type of visa,” he explained.

Pinoys going to the US for vaxx

Millennials also accounted for the largest number of outbound travelers in 2020, at 31.14 percent (ages 25-34), followed by those aged between 35 and 44 years at 28.53 percent, and Gen-X’ers (45-54) at 16.92 percent. Millennials are those born between 1991 and 1996, while those belonging to Generation-X were born between 1965 and 1980.

No comparative data for outbound travelers in 2019 were provided by the DOT.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a number of Filipinos have been traveling abroad this year, mainly to the United States, according to Ritchie Tuaño, chairman and general manager of Asiareps Travel Services Inc., “The interest in outbound travel actually is more to visit friends and relatives. There was also a brief spike of those vaccination trips to the US.”

Tuaño, former president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, also said those who left “have existing US visas.” According to the latest information from the US Embassy in the Philippines, “All airline passengers traveling to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative Covid-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health-care provider of having recovered from Covid-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.”

Outbound travel expenditures

Separately, outbound tourism expenditures, as reflected in the Balance of Payments travel imports data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, amounted to some $4.6 billion (P230 billion) in 2020, a massive 62-percent plunge from $12.04 billion (P602 billion) in 2019.

In the first quarter of 2021, outbound travel expenditures likewise slipped by 60 percent to $884.96 million (P44.25 billion) from $2.21 billion (P110.5 billion) in the same period last year, as   international travel restrictions remain in place due to the Covid-19 concerns.

Travel imports covers purchases of goods and services by Filipinos abroad for their own use during visits of less than one year for business or personal purposes. These include expenditures on accommodations, meals, and transport within the visited destination. The data include not just travel expenses by vacationers, but also overseas Filipino workers.

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