Thailand, Japan fave Pinoy vacation spots–GrabAds


THAILAND is the top choice of Filipino travelers for their vacations in Southeast Asia in the next 12 months, while Japan claims the first spot for their non-Southeast Asian (SEA) destinations.

The findings are contained in the latest SEA Travel Insights 2023 report of GrabAds, the advertising arm of Grab, an-app based regional transport network company (TNC) operating in the Philippines. The survey polled 2,000 respondents from the Philippines.

The travel bug has bitten many Filipinos with international pandemic restrictions in most countries already dismantled, such that 70 percent of the respondents said they plan to travel abroad at least once in the next 12 months, while 82 percent said they intend to travel more than twice in the same reference period.

Of the Filipino leisure travelers’ favored destinations in Southeast Asia, Singapore ranks a close second behind Thailand, with Malaysia and Vietnam sharing third place. Outside of Southeast Asia, after Japan, Filipinos would also want to visit South Korea and the United States, ranking in second and third place, respectively.

Local travel agencies shared with the BusinessMirror that Filipinos like to travel to the scenes featured in their favorite Korean telenovelas, while many are fans of popular K-pop bands.

Also, just recently, the Embassy of Japan in Manila announced Filipinos among its top visitors from the Association of Southeast Nations, having reached 328,800 from January to July this year. This was already 98.77 percent of the 332,891 who visited in the same period in prepandemic 2019. (See, “Pinoys top Asean arrivals, drawing Japan’s ‘arigato,’” in the BusinessMirror, September 6, 2023.)

Bonding with family first

Meanwhile, the GrabAds reported, “Filipinos are eager to travel with their loved ones, with 66  percent of respondents saying they prefer to travel with their families and relatives. This is no surprise given the close-knit nature of Filipino families—a hallmark of the country’s culture.”

Of those surveyed, 47 percent said they plan to travel with their spouse, while 38 percent said they were traveling with their close friends. “This suggests that Filipinos are also looking to create special memories with other loved ones during their travels,” said GrabAds in a news statement.

Filipinos also plan their travels carefully by designing an itinerary, selecting hotels, applying for visas, and finalizing other travel essentials. Majority of the respondents (59 percent) said they plan their short-haul trips abroad (three hours or less from the Philippines) at least one to three months in advance.

The study also found 54 percent of the respondents “not only set a travel budget, but are also determined to stick to it. This highlights the meticulous planning and financial prudence of Filipino travelers.”

Insights for travel partners

With the surge in travel demand, GrabAds recommended tourism stakeholders  seize the opportunity to evolve their short-term “revenge travel” campaigns into  more permanent, long-term strategies to ensure travelers keep returning to their destinations.

Jennie Johnson, Head of Marketing at GrabAds said: “[Our] data revealed a massive increase of 84 percent in international travel intent among SEA Grab users compared to just one year ago.

Last year, brands may have focused on short-term impulse campaigns based on pent-up lockdown FOMO (fear of missing out)—but they now need to shift towards developing long-term relationships with savvy Southeast Asian travelers as they dream, plan, book and experience travel.

She added, “It could be as simple as maintaining year-round communication with consumers or utilizing online to offline channels to promote the latest offers.” The company said it can help travel brands “stay ahead” of these travel trends by connecting advertisers to Grab’s extensive first-party data. The company recently partnered with Mediabank Inc. to build a campaign for the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) to create awareness for travelers to “Discover Another Side of Japan” beyond the traditional tourist spots, utilizing the TNC’s customer base, who rank Japan as a major leisure destination.

Image credits: Whitcomberd |