With people now more aware of their health and safety, companies in the travel and hospitality industry, as they continue to bear the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic, must focus on future of Philippine tourism: to become an industry that creates density and high value-added experiences for consumers.
In short, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT), mass tourism could very well be a thing of the past.
This long-term forecast was the culmination of the discussion during the recent webinar “The Tourism Boost: What Worked, What’s Next”. Hosted by Cheche Moral, Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Head of the Visayas Bureau Connie Fernandez-Brojan, the webinar is part of the Large Format Rebound Project, which aims to help businesses across the country, especially those in the tourism and hospitality, in the pursuit of their activities. their path to recovery.
While this road seems long and arduous given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases – as Noa Macavinta, Dinibeach bar manager and Boracay Foundation board member says, the situation in Boracay has become ” disastrous ”without guests to fill rooms – the change in consumer behavior presents a number of long-term opportunities for the local travel and tourism industry.
According to Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Filipinos are now looking for lower density destinations and more personalized tourism offerings, in line with the major concern everyone now has when leaving their homes: protecting themselves from the virus. .
“There should be a lasting focus on standardizing safety and health protocols,” Macavinta said.
Travel with confidence
“What is important is to restore the confidence of travelers,” added Bengzon. “We don’t need massive investments in infrastructure; what is important is that we make sure that the facilities are properly maintained in terms of health and safety. “
A survey of more than 7,000 Filipinos in 78 provinces nationwide confirms how important it is to standardize these protocols. The results indicate that “variation in local government security protocols is the main source of travel inconvenience”; therefore, a unified system would help alleviate the difficulty of traveling in today’s pandemic-plagued world.
The same study, conducted in February by the DOT, the Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism and the online tourism platform Guide to the Philippines, indicates that because consumers are more careful about their travel, their preferences have evolved and moved outward. activities, such as hiking, biking and going to the beach.
In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that sustainable and cultural tourism also offers many opportunities for the local travel industry.
When it comes to companions, the study also finds that people are likely to choose to travel as a family – again, the people they feel are most safe with.
And since long-distance travel remains quite complicated for many tourists, road trips are likely to become a popular activity among many Filipinos. Rodrigo Franco, president and CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways, said the freeways were buzzing with activity due to the local tourist movement.
“Filipinos are social creatures. We have seen local tourists on our highways, usually in small groups, ”he said.
Besides security, another standard travel offering at all tourist and hotel establishments should be digital connectivity. In Boracay, for example, tourist establishments now offer “work from paradise” packages for those who want a change of scenery while continuing their activities from a distance.
Ultimately, as the local tourism industry grows, it must also move away from mass tourism in order to thrive and survive the global health crisis, the DOT said.
“Low density tourism is the direct opposite of mass tourism,” Bengzon said. “Keep your customers to a minimum, but offer tailor-made services.” INQ
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