Filipinos have taken to traveling in droves to outbound destinations near and far and purchasing travel insurance without prodding.
These observations were shared at the recent 10th Travel Madness Fair in Manila.
As Ark Travel Express president, Paz Alberto, put it: “Travel has become part of Filipino lives,” adding that their appetite for it has been whetted even more with “promotional airfares, increased long weekends, and the need to maintain one’s health and well-being”.
One of its consequences is the growth in demand for travel insurance, many with Covid-19 coverage, even for shorthaul destinations, a trend likely to persist longer as can be gleaned in the longer list of insurance companies exhibitors this year.
“Travel insurance is a must nowadays. Unlike in the past when passengers had to be pushed to buy, with only about 20 per cent of them getting travel insurance, now it’s the other way around,” said Dorothy Lauron-Aytona, president and general manager, Skynet Travel Corp.
Alberto shared that Japan is now the new Hong Kong, enjoying a brisk demand due to having visas which are valid for one year or more.
Many have opted for Japan after South Korea implemented earlier this year new visa processing procedures eliminating accredited travel agencies in favour of an online visa appointment system, resulting in longer queues and processing time.
The Embassy of South Korea in Manila stated in a notice that “online reservation slots for Individual Applicants for Tourism for the month of July 2023 has been fully booked”, which means travellers had to queue up for slots in August.
Estimating that the number of Filipino tourists to South Korea had halved, Lauron-Aytona said that apart from Japan, Filipinos are also travelling longhaul to the Balkan states, Morocco, Turkey, and Greece.
Dubai is also getting its fair share of tourists, and pilgrimages to Europe and the Holy Land are blooming. Meanwhile, Corporate International Travel and Tours basks in getting good volume for international cruises.
Simon Ang, managing director operations, Celebrate Life, Travel, Leisure and Celebrations, said luxury travel is in and has resumed much ahead of leisure travel.
Lauron-Aytona noted that “China is back” but advised travel consultants to get the hang of visa processing procedures being done in the Philippines. The destination is also accepting groups, however, the tour operator in China will be the one to process visa applications.
She added that previously, families usually travel to a single destination – the trend now is for multiple destinations, like combining Asia with Europe, possibly because they had travel money saved during the pandemic.
Hotel rates are still high owing to increased demand, while the shortage of flights due to some airlines not yet resuming their original flight schedules means airfares will continue to remain high.