Filipinos slake their thirst for travel with brisk demand this year for certain destinations in Asia and beyond, as gleaned from the huge crowd on the first day (February 3) of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association’s (PTAA) three-day Travel Tour Expo 2023.
South Korea and Japan are on top of most people’s list, but South Korea’s dazzle has dimmed due to tighter visa application rules.
“Japan has always had a close affinity with the Philippines and mostly, whatever purpose they have, there is always a touch of culinary experience they want to enjoy. Similarly, the association to (South) Korea is on K-pop and Telenovelas but they also want a bit of the culinary experience,” said Aileen Clemente, president and chair, Rajah Travel.
Other tour operators at the expo said that in Asia, travel to Bangkok is picking up, as well as to Singapore and Hong Kong which has opened up. Dubai is another favourite choice because, like South Korea, it always has new tourism offerings.
Mike Hain, groups manager, Corporate International Travel and Tours, Inc. (CITTI) said that travellers now prefer experiential over seeing, and that “it’s lovelier selling a tour that touches the emotions”.
Hain cited a tour to Finland where all the passengers – the elderly included – felt they had returned to their younger years when they met with Santa Claus, short of sitting on his lap.
CITTI started selling all-in Silversea cruises, mainly for expeditions to the Arctic and Galapagos, which received positive feedback – the demand comes from seasoned travellers who want to try something different. The same holds true for off-beat destinations in Scandinavia.
With many Filipinos having travelled to Asia, they now tend to go for longhaul destinations like Europe, Canada and the US. Turkey’s value packages and out-of-this-world scenery remain popular too.
Filipinos are a pro in religious pilgrimage, and although it is increasing this year, 2024 and 2025 will be much better, said Enes Esen, managing director of DB Tourism.
In Europe, Esen said the religious sites of Rome, Lourdes and Fatima are in demand. He explained that while Europe is an expensive destination, so are Japan and South Korea.
Clemente commented that Filipinos also travel more as families. Although they want to celebrate and appreciate life and love as they travel, more importantly, they want to go to destinations where they trust the “emergency response” should anything happen to them.