Driven by millennials, local travel on the rise

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The demand for travel in the domestic market is seen to remain strong despite higher consumer prices as travel is becoming a necessity to many Filipinos, an official of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

Tourism Undersecretary and spokesperson Benito Bengzon Jr. noted the tremendous growth of the country’s domestic tourism market in the past years, with the number of local tourists more than doubling to 95 million last year from 45 million four years ago.

“Over those three years, we’ve had headwinds, different kinds of challenges, but the numbers continue to grow. And I think it’s a reflection of how many Filipinos see travel as a necessity rather than a luxury,“ Bengzon told The STAR.

Bengzon said the millennial travelers, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, are fueling the demand due to their interest in discovering the country.

He added that this interest from the domestic tourism market is seen to continue despite higher consumer prices.

“People will always look for special deals. Even if some will say that inflation will result in higher cost of package tours, Filipinos will always find a way to travel,“ Bengzon said.

Colliers International Philippines research manager Joey Roi Bondoc earlier told The STAR that the country’s rising inflation may impact occupancy rates of two and three —star hotels as it would affect the purchasing power of Filipinos.

“Higher inflation affects the purchasing power of Filipinos. So there could be some belt-tightening for local travelers,“ Bondoc said.

Headline inflation hit a nine-year high in August at 6.4 percent.

Bondoc said the hotels and restaurants subsegment has been growing by about eight percent per annum from 2009 to 2017,which shows that Filipinos’ leisure spending has been growing and indicates that Filipinos continue to allot a part of their disposable income on travels. 

“So it is interesting to know how much Filipinos are willing to skimp on travel expenses given the rising prices of other necessities,“ Bondoc said.

“With local travelers and staycationers skimping on travel spending this might affect the occupancies of two to three star hotels that primarily cater to milennials and staycationers,“ he added.

Bengzon previously said that the DOT is hoping to rake in additional visitor receipts this year despite the country’s rising inflation rate, driven by the higher purchasing power of tourists brought by the stronger US Dollar.

Bengzon said the tourism sector has already seen significant growth in visitor receipts in the first four months of the year.

“For the past four months, we have recorded a 53.93 percent increase in tourism revenues and with this being said, we are hoping that the current value of the peso against the US dollar will bring in additional tourism receipts as a result if the stronger purchasing power that this will give our visitors,“ Bengzon said.

Visitor receipts from January to April amounted to P140.5 billion compared to P91.3 billion in the same period last year.


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