BANGKOK – The balmy beach resorts of the Philippines will be the first to benefit when Chinese travellers begin to move outside their own country.
Outside of Manila, resort locations led by Boracay, Bohol and Cebu will be the preferred destinations of first movers, comprising independent travellers taking short breaks.
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 travellers will be attracted to beach destinations whose appeal has been enhanced by the Covid-19 self-isolation and social distancing hangover protocols.
Post-crisis resumption of international travel is a key economic issue for the Philippines where tourism accounts for 12.7% of GDP.
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.
A survey undertaken in first tier cities across China shows that 61% of respondents would like to visit the Philippines within 2020.
Other trends showed that 82% of early demand is from independent travellers 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 travellers are increasingly looking beyond the mass market machine of Ctrip. Other digital channels like Alibaba’s Fliggy and WeChat are becoming travel booking marketplaces.
David Johnson, CEO of Delivering Asia Communications said, “Fast-to-market digital strategies are the best way the industry can adapt quickly to an evolving global travel landscape.”
C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett said 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 travellers is an important issue that needs to be addressed.”