Top News Longhaul markets lead tourism recovery for the Philippines By Rosa Ocampo / Posted on 17 April, 2022 19:10 Clemente: Having reopened to international tourists over two months ago, the Philippines is discovering that fewer travel restrictions in the west are helping to bring in the first wave of tourists. Rajah Tour president Jojo Clemente has seen arrivals coming from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and other longhaul markets. Clemente: Asia’s cautious border restrictions are holding back potential visitation to the Philippines “It’s easier for them to leave (for overseas trips) and return home,” he told TTG Asia. In comparison, Asian markets “have been more conservative in terms of health and safety protocols compared to the west”, hence the reluctance to travel, he added. While the Philippines used to benefit from top tourism source markets South Korea and Japan, both countries are still battling Covid surges, causing residents to be hesitant about travelling. China, the Philippines’ fastest growing and biggest source market, also has a tough zero Covid-19 policy that requires long quarantine period when citizens return from abroad, pointed out Arfel Travel and Tours’ president Fe Abling-Yu. Abling-Yu and Clemente predicted that arrivals from South-east Asia and the rest of Asia will follow as travel requirements in their respective countries loosen up. In better times, arrivals from Asia used to comprise at least 60 per cent of total foreign arrivals in the Philippines. That has declined to just 55.67 per cent in 2020. Abling-Yu said that while the US is coming up, many of them are balikbayans or returning Filipinos while tourists from the UK, France and other parts of EU are trickling in. The Philippines can look to other source markets like India, Israel, the Middle East, and Taiwan where travel freedom has returned. Clemente revealed that there has been a “steady stream” of enquiries from India ever since the Philippines permitted visa-required nationalities to enter April 1. “So, I see some pick up from that sooner than later.” “Israel has also started to send enquiries, along with GCC countries like the UAE and Qatar,” Clemente added.