Filipinos’ passion for travel has not been doused by the current tumultuous situations around the globe, in particular, the US-Iran tensions, protests in Hong Kong, bushfires in Australia, and safety issues in other destinations.
“There will always be trouble but people are tired of being scared. Something untoward can happen even in one’s home. So the mentality (among Filipinos) is to travel while they can, are still strong and have the means to do so,” Golden Sky Travel and Tours president Dolly Santos said.
“We don’t have cancellations to the Holy Land (despite the rising tensions in Iran) and you’d be surprised that Hong Kong is coming back (as an attractive destination despite the ongoing protests there),” he added.
Bullish on outbound prospects this year, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president Ritchie Tuano likened the Filipinos’ insatiable appetite for travelling to “a raging river wherein if there’s a dead-end spout, it will always look for a hole to go somewhere”.
“Filipinos would find destinations to tick off their bucket list as they have more disposable income now and are really saving to travel,” Tuano said.
He said this explains why the upcoming PTAA TravelTour Expo, the biggest of its kind in the Philippines, boasts a long list of tour operators from across Europe and Central Asia like Georgia and Azerbaijan, Bhutan, and even traditional destinations like Israel and India, that are looking at growing outbound from the country.
Manila-based Golden Eagle Travel and Tours president Michelle Victoria observed a growing appetite among Filipinos for new destinations like Turkey, European countries for viewing the aurora borealis, and exotic destinations in Central Asia.
Given that Middle East destinations are popular among Filipinos, Tuano hopes to assure customers that travel to the region is safe.
He cited an advisory from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism stating that everything is business as usual and that there’s no immediate threat, alluding to the tensions in Iran.
Tuano also received a communication from the United Arab Emirates highlighting that the tensions are concentrated in Iran and Iraq, and that the Middle East is a big region and not all of it is affected.
Erhan Balaban, general manager of Turkish Airlines in the Philippines, noted that Turkey –being close to the Middle East region – have implemented safety measures, including avoiding flying into the airspace over Iran.
“Our priority is to maintain security. We have all the safety measures in place,” Balaban said.