Post-crisis resumption of international travel is a key economic issue for the Philippines where tourism accounts for 12.7% of GDP. While domestic staycations are likely to be a short-term cash flow strategy for hotel and tourism establishments in the months ahead, the reopening of the overseas market is critical to stabilize the sector.
South Korea and China accounted for nearly half of all international visitors to the country last year, and mounting prospects are likely to see intra-regional travel coming back online for the remainder of the year. Latching onto this, a new consumer travel survey undertaken in first-tier cities across China shows that 61% of respondents would like to visit the Philippines within 2020.
According to the China Philippines Travel Sentiment Survey, conducted in the first week of May by hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications, the key conclusion is that the first wave of international travelers will be attracted to Philippine beach destinations whose appeal has been enhanced by the Covid-19 self-isolation and social distancing hangover protocols.
Ranking preferred Philippine destinations by Chinese travelers, aside from Manila the locations in order were all beach resort locations led by Boracay, Bohol and Cebu. Other trends showed that 82% of early demand was from independent travelers versus tour groups, with almost 30% opting for a five-day length of stay.
Another insight of the market research is that early return Chinese travelers are increasingly looking beyond the mass market machine of Ctrip and other digital channels like Alibaba’s Fliggy and WeChat are becoming travel booking marketplaces.
David Johnson, CEO of Delivering Asia Communications weighs in with “hotels strategic planning cycles as part of the recovery process are out the window. Fast-to-market digital strategies are the best way the industry can adapt quickly to an evolving global travel landscape.”
Summing up key report findings C9 Hotelworks Managing Director Bill Barnett said “the new norm for travel and hotels of social distancing should be about physical distancing. The challenge is to address the heartbeat of hospitality which is social connections. Given the brand DNA of the Philippines is “it’s more fun”, how this can transpose to travel experiences of international travelers is an important issue that needs to be addressed.”