Tourists coming back, taking longer holidays, say PH tour operators | Inquirer Business

Tourists coming back, taking longer holidays, say PH tour operators

/ 08:14 AM October 03, 2022

Philippine tour operators are optimistic about the continued recovery of the tourism sector this year, projecting an industry comeback to prepandemic levels sometime next year as lockdown measures ease further and local travelers get back to normalcy.

Philippine Tour Operators Association Inc. (PHILTOA) first vice president Mary Ann Ong said, “We are very optimistic this year — maybe a little bit less compared to prepandemic levels,” Ong told the Inquirer at the sidelines of the opening day for the 33rd Philippine Travel Mart at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

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“Although almost all of our (regional destinations) are open now, it’s just that some foreign visitors — like those from Korea and China — have still not come back,” she added, offering an explanation why it might take a bit longer for the industry to recover to levels before the health crisis.

Growing optimism

Despite that, Ong said industry optimism stemmed from the easing of government restrictions imposed in the past because of the pandemic. The face mask mandate, for instance, has been lifted for outdoor settings earlier this month.

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“Psychologically, it makes people think that everything is okay now. But if people still want to be safer, they can still put their masks on outdoors,” she said in mixed English and Pilipino.

On Sept. 13, Malacañang issued Executive Order No. 3, which made masking in outdoor areas, particularly in open and non-crowded spaces with good ventilation, voluntary.

“Christmas season is a peak season. So, we expect that [to] help a lot,” she added, noting that booking in hotels and resort also increases during the Yuletide season.

The PHILTOA official said they have already recorded more than 2 million foreign tourist arrivals since the Philippine reopened its borders back in February of this year.

Revenge travel

During the past nine months of this year, Ong said they saw a notable behavioral change among travelers – one that might help speed up the recovery of the local tourism industry.

“The trend right now is that when people travel, they do it for longer periods,” Ong said. She explained that travelers today allot four days on the average for their vacations instead of the usual two.

Ong said this current trend among travelers is what they call “revenge travel,” characterized by people having more extravagant and longer vacation cravings after being cooped up in their houses at the height of the health crisis.

“Because people have been stuck at home for close to two years, they just want to go and splurge,” said Ong.

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TAGS: Christmas season, domestic tourism, Philippine Tour Operators’ Association
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