Airbnb-funded poll: PHL tourists eye rural sites

The Palawan Ecolodge in Rizal encourages guests to experience local life.

FILIPINOS plan to visit little-known rural destinations during their vacations and hope to make positive contributions to the local economy.

These are among the latest findings in a new research and analysis by Economist Impact, titled. “Rebuilding tourism in Asia-Pacific: A more conscious traveler?” commissioned by Airbnb, an online platform for leasing rooms and vacation homes, as well as a guide for tourism activities. The research surveyed 4,500 people across nine Asia-Pacific countries including the Philippines.

For instance, over half of the Filipinos surveyed said they “plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are not currently popular with tourists,” while over 80 percent said, “It’s important that their travel creates a positive impact for locals.”

The research also found some 75 percent of Filipinos polled “value using travel as a way to meaningfully connect with communities and culture. This includes immersing themselves in local communities when they travel.” Airbnb failed to say how many exactly were the Filipino respondents and what survey method was used.

In a news statement, Pratima Singh, Senior Manager for Policy and Insights at Economist Impact said,  “Following the pandemic, travelers are thinking more about the implications of their travel choices and decisions.” She added, “We’re seeing a trend where people are attempting to make their travel decisions more sustainable—economically, culturally and environmentally—and hoping to have a more positive impact by benefiting local communities.”

Support for sustainable tourism

Other findings include:

■ Over 70 percent of respondents said they were more inclined to contribute to the local economy, and will factor this into where they travel and how they spend as they are conscious that communities need to recover their economy.

■ 76 percent of respondents said they will be more conscious when it comes to familiarizing themselves with what’s important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution.

■ Over 60 percent were willing to build sustainable tourism practices into their holiday plans. They said they were most willing to forgo comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes; pay a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices; and avoid destinations faced with sustainability challenges.

The research also found Filipinos were looking for new ways to travel and live, such that 60 percent plan to take work-cations or work remotely when they can. In the future, 62 percent said they were planning to travel to more domestic destinations, allocating more of their travel budget within the country.

For her part, Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, said, “In the wake of the disconnection and economic hardship brought by the pandemic, people are becoming increasingly thoughtful and deliberate about how they can use travel to make a positive contribution to the communities they’re visiting. They’re thinking deeply about how they can put their tourist dollars to best use and economically empower towns and rural communities that have struggled. And they’re looking to immerse themselves in these communities and forge meaningful connections, while also minimizing any unintended negative impacts.”

She added, “Airbnb is committed to partnering with governments and communities to find ways to harness the travel revolution to deliver tangible and lasting benefits for everyone. It’s critically important that both industry and government come together to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

According to the Department of Tourism, there were 4,201 Mabuhay Accommodations and 172 homestays registered with the agency as of April 2021. In May, Airbnb said it had 39,000 listings in the Philippines, which means less than 11 percent of Airbnbs are registered with the DOT. (See, “Less than 11% of total Airbnbs in the PHL are DOT-accredited,” in the BusinessMirror, May 30, 2021.)


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