THE Philippines ranks poorly among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) destinations in terms of cultural experiences as a tourist’s motivation for visiting.
The views of international travelers were contained in Frost & Sullivan’s 2022 Consumer Insight Survey of Target Markets commissioned by the Department of Tourism (DOT) in 2021. Among the items surveyed was the image of the Philippines as a destination versus leisure travelers’ motivation, by asking respondents the question: “Before Covid-19, to what extent do you agree with the following statement: (Country) is an ideal destination for?” The survey showed that the Philippines specifically ranked lowest in terms of historical landmarks (51 percent); and very poorly for cultural/art activities (29 percent), or museums and religious/places of worship (11 percent); poorly in food explorations/cooking classes (27 percent); and average on city trips (34 percent).
Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday about the new tourism branding campaign, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia said, “Global trends supported by data from various reliable and reputable tourism-related publications have indicated that post-pandemic, people’s reasons for travel have also changed, chief of which is that people now wish to have some sense of substantive, immersive, and authentic cultural experiences.”
She added, “People also value the opportunity to get to know communities. These trends correspond very well to the assets of Philippine tourism that have yet to be fully maximized–our culture, our people, our communities. And that is why the enhanced tourism slogan will give our country an opportunity to market itself not just as a fun destination, which it will continue to be, but also a destination for everything else that includes highlighting our culture and our people.”
Tops in adventure activities
On the upside, the survey showed the Philippines ranked among the top three Asean destinations for sun, beaches, and islands (76 percent); nature, national parks, forests (50 percent); mountains, hiking, trekking (38 percent, and scoring the highest among adventure activities); and diving and water sports (34 percent). For sun and fun, the Philippines ties with Indonesia, ranking closely behind Thailand. For nature pursuits, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are ranked close together. For water sports, the Philippines ranks high with the rest of the world.
The Philippines also ranks fairly well in other tourism products, such as romantic getaways (21 percent, and scoring the highest); nightlife and entertainment (15 percent, ranking high, but slightly below Thailand and Singapore; spa/wellness/health/medical (4 percent); farm/plantation/ vineyard (ranked high); and casino/gaming (ranked high, but below Singapore), those surveyed indicated they were not very aware of these other offerings, or were just not interested in these.
With these survey results, according to the just approved National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028, “[Fully] aware that the Asean member states at first glance appear to offer broadly similar tourism products, it will be crucial to invest for the long term in defining our cultural experiences to stand out in Asean’s highly competitive tourism environment more effectively.” The NTDP is a blueprint of strategies and programs for government to attain tourism targets, and lift the industry’s contribution to economic growth.
Under the baseline scenario, the DOT is targetting to attract 4.8 million international tourists this year, 7.7 million in 2024, 8.4 million in 2025, 9.3 million in 2026, 10.2 million in 2027, and 11.5 million in 2028.
The Frost and Sullivan survey was carried out via online panel survey of 8,511 respondents as well as focus group discussions and in-depth interviews across 13 source markets.
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