Filipinos are most looking forward to “sun and beach” and “road trips” once they are able to travel once more.

This is according to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who spoke during a webinar (“Hotel Industry: Through and Beyond COVID-19,” organized by Santos Knight Frank with the British Chamber of Commerce. 

They will most likely be traveling in smaller groups, Puyat said, talking about the Department of Tourism (DOT)-commissioned survey.

“Based on the preliminary results of a survey we launched with Guide to the Philippines and the Asian Institute of Management, the number one activity that people are looking forward to is “sun and beach.” Following this are “road trips,” which is in line with how we foresee the gradual reopening of tourism. Traveling by land, to nearby destinations, will be the primary mode of transportation in these early phases.”

Travel distances will initially be short and most likely intra-municipality or intra-province she said. But domestic travelers would eventually go farther distances and start taking flights.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, Puyat said that Philippine tourism “was experiencing its best year ever.” 

In 2019, she said, tourism accounted for 12.7 percent of the country’s GDP (10.8 percent of which is from domestic tourism). Some 5.71 million people were employed in the tourism industry which is one of the hardest hit since the public health emergency unfolded in March. 

During her talk, Puyat mentioned the DOT’s Tourism Response and Recovery Plan, which she said is the agency’s masterplan to help tourism recover in the next 3 years.

Tourists’ behavior and expectations would definitely change once they start to travel again. But Puyat highlighted three major points that people in tourism-related industries must take note of in the short and medium term:

1. Health and safety will continue to be the primary consideration in travel decisions. Travelers will ask detailed questions on the situation in a destination or establishment, and availability and proximity of medical facilities and services.

2. There will be increased utilization of digital platforms in securing information on travel options, booking flights and accommodations, and transacting in general. This is part of the shift to cashless and contactless transactions.

3. More consumers will prefer small group but high-value, experiential travel. As physical distancing protocols must continue to be observed, there will be less of the mass groups that we saw prior to the pandemic. 

Puyat ended her talk with the mention of DOT’s latest campaign called “Wake up in the Philippines,” which include virtual tours and instructional cooking videos meant to inspire future travelers to keep the Philippines in mind once they are able to travel again.

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