THE Philippines will finally join the ranks of high-growth tourism economies in the Asia-Pacific region that will be receiving an avalanche of inbound visitor receipts by 2033.
This was among the findings in the World Tourism Market (WTM) Global Travel Report presented at the travel trade event in London last week. The report projected a 200-percent increase in inbound receipts in 2033 followed by Indonesia (+196 percent), and Myanmar (+191 percent), from 2023. Despite this optimistic projection for the country, tourism spend in the Philippines will still not be enough to make it among the top leisure destinations in the region in 10 years, which will be dominated by Malaysia (+192 percent, Thailand (+178 percent), China (+158 percent), India (+133 percent), and Japan (+80 percent).
Under the National Tourism Development Plan 2023-2028, the Department of Tourism targets 4.8-million international travelers and P718 billion in inbound receipts this year. Under the WTM report’s projection, the Philippines will earn some P2.15 trillion in inbound receipts in 2033.
The report also predicted Asia-Pacific households will increase their spending on travel by 2033, with the rise in incomes and expansion of the middle class, especially notable in China. The largest increase in the middle-class travel population will come from India, Indonesia, and other emerging markets at a compounded annual growth rate of 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, compared to China’s 8 percent.
China still major source market
“However, average incomes remain significantly higher in China, which means that over 60 million more households are expected to earn enough to be able to afford travel by 2033,” said the report, made in association with Tourism Economics, a unit of Oxford Economics, a global leader in forecasting and econometric analysis.
As such, while key outbound leisure markets are projected to be the same in the next decade, China’s growth will “outpace other large markets and will consequently become more important for many destinations….China may become twice the size of the United States by 2033,” in terms of receiving leisure tourists and outbound spending. The DOT, for instance, continues to pin the Philippines’ tourism recovery on attracting more Chinese visitors, such that the Department of Foreign Affairs has been forced to prematurely launch its electronic visa platform in China, despite security concerns. (See, “Check e-visa policy, focus on Indians—Sen. Nancy,” in the BusinessMirror, October 6, 2023.)
Meanwhile, the future direction of travel will largely depend on government policy; the report cites the relaxation of visa policies like provision of visas upon arrival, or electronic visa (e-visa) schemes, or the scrapping of visas entirely have increased visitor arrivals in many leisure destinations.
Cultural immersions preferred
Also, several governments are implementing regulations to prevent overtourism, and mitigate the damage to their environments. Venice, for instance, will impose a tax on day visitors, on a trial basis during peak periods in 2024.
Preference for sustainable tourism by travelers may also influence the industry, the report added, which could mean “fewer but long-haul trips [slow tourism] and more local short-haul trips.” The report cites EHL Insights which found “slow tourism” growing at an estimated 10-percent compounded rate, as travelers find this an alternate to traditional holidays.
Also seen growing in prominence is the “increased demand for unique, authentic, and personalized preferences,” with travelers opting to immense themselves in new environments and cultures.
Climate change will also play a huge part in a traveler’s choice of destination, said the report. “As weather extremes become more likely in the future, traditional choices regarding timings and locations for holidays are likely to shift also.”
Middle East tops 2023 recovery
The report projects 1.26 billion of international trips will be made this year, which shows a strong rebound in leisure travel despite growing economic difficulties from inflation, higher interest rates, and challenging household budgets. These trips will just be 14 percent less than the number of international trips taken in prepandemic 2019.
On the upside, “travel spending by inbound visitors will exceed prepandemic levels in most global regions in 2023, as average spending per trip has also risen, partly due to higher prices, but also providing economic benefits,” said the report. The Middle East will post the strongest recovery, with leisure travelers projected to rise by 13 percent this year, from 2019.
Image credits: WTM-Tourism Economics