In a survey conducted by the Department of Tourism in May, two months after the government started to impose community quarantines and industry lockdowns to stem the spread of CoViD-19 in the country, more than half of respondents said they still wanted to travel to the provinces and various tourist spots by land.
This was revealed by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat during the Nov. 5 contract signing between the department and Nissan Philippines for the Safe Trips campaign.
The survey, called “Philippine Travel Survey: Insights on Filipino Travel Behavior Post-COVID 19”, revealed that of the 12,000 respondents across the country, 77 percent expressed their willingness to travel to local destinations once restrictions are lifted. More than half also looked forward to travel for leisure or vacation, even in the absence of a vaccine against COVID-19. The majority also preferred activities they deemed “safe” with limited face-to-face interaction: 54 percent said they wanted to travel by land. The top planned activities were: 69 percent intended to visit the beaches, 54 percent wanted to go on road trips, and 41 percent eyed staycations.
The survey was a joint project of the DOT, the Asian Institute of Management Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, and Guide to the Philippines.
Its results showed that domestic leisure travel is poised to become the main driver in the recovery of the tourism industry in the Philippines.
Other key insights of the survey include:
o Filipinos prefer to travel to places closer to home;
o Domestic leisure travel would lead the recovery of Philippine tourism;
o Majority of travelers expect a reduction of their income and travel budget;
o Health and safety remain travelers’ primary concerns;
o Travelers prefer reduced-contact activities once leisure travel restrictions are lifted, and;
o Travelers prefer online and digital channels for convenience and reduced contact
The DOT survey provides the context for the creation of the Safe Trips campaign, whose proponents stress that, with health and safety as the top priority of travelers, road trips using private vehicles would be the best way for domestic travel under the new normal.
After the virtual contract signing between Romulo-Puyat and Nissan Philippines president and managing director Atsushi Najima, a virtual press conference was held, which outlined DOT and Nissan Philippines’ roles in the campaign.
Under the campaign, Nissan and DOT will develop educational and promotional content for social media and generate publicity on how to safely and responsibly travel to local tourist destinations. These include formulating and disseminating recommendations, advice, and practical tips for land travel in the new normal, social distancing guides, health protocols for visiting specific destinations, and provide updates on spots that have reopened for visitors.
“The DOT is committed to reviving the country’s tourism industry from the harsh impacts of the pandemic. We thank Nissan Philippines for being a partner in tourism recovery by promoting health and safety protocols for road trips. It is a timely effort as we have reopened Baguio City and Ilocos Norte to Luzon residents, both of which can be accessed by land travel,” said Romulo-Puyat.
“We hope that this campaign will encourage all Filipinos to practice safe and responsible travel as they return to local tourist spots and enjoy the beauty of our country,” she added.
“Nissan’s vision is to enrich people’s lives by making their journeys safe, smart, and fun. We want to promote safe and responsible travels with our innovative and dependable vehicles, so that our customers can enjoy adventures with family and friends. Tourism has become a passion for Nissan in the Philippines over the years, which is why we are truly excited to partner with DOT to promote the tourism sector towards its recovery,” Najima said.
In 2019, the tourism industry accounted for 13 percent of the country’s economy. The CoViD-19 pandemic, however, has slowed tourism to a virtual halt in much of 2020, as stricter travel restrictions were implemented since March to deter the spread of the virus.
However, as the DOT survey indicates, even a pandemic won’t keep a society from hitting the road for too long. Popular local tourist spots, especially beaches, are expected to see a surge in visitors. Boracay, Siargao, and Baguio top the list of destinations when travel is permitted again.
It would be a tourism surge that would be more mindful of health protocols, though. More than 80 percent of the survey respondents expect tourism establishments to follow best practices in sanitation and health. At least 88 percent of respondents have also expressed willingness to comply with existing health and safety protocols, such as undergoing tests prior to departure and submitting a medical certificate before traveling.
In a statement, DOT revealed that the report recommends that establishments and organizations emphasize safety and be transparent in addressing customers’ concerns. It also recommends that tourism stakeholders closely collaborate with other authorities and find ways to innovate and adapt to the new normal—including digital shifts where it is needed—to help manage uncertainties about traveling.