Boracay remains the top domestic travel destination for Filipinos, according to a 2021 Philippine Travel Trends survey by Airbnb. — PHILSTAR

Boracay remains the top domestic travel destination for Filipinos, followed by Palawan, Baguio, Siargao Island, and Tagaytay, according to a 2021 Philippine Travel Trends survey by Airbnb. 

“It’s not difficult to understand the brewing pent-up demand for travel. People are not able now to do something they took for granted in the past. That’s why Filipinos want to connect as soon as they can,” said Amanpreet S. Bajaj, general manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. “The need to connect is a very powerful emotion among the Filipino community.” 

“COVID-19 has been a global fork in the road for everyone,” added Mr. Bajaj. “The single biggest focus for all travel stakeholders is that we kickstart travel again. We are responding by promoting safe travel in domestic corridors and supporting government protocols.” 

The questions, according to a March 2 virtual roundtable organized by the travel platform, were framed in an aspirational manner, along the lines of how the respondents want to travel, and with whom. Among the specific trends the survey found were the following:

  • The pandemic has strengthened the ties of Filipino families due to the long lockdown: 88% of respondents said they felt more connected with their families during the pandemic.
  • Filipinos want to connect with their families once travel resumes: 60% of respondents plan on connecting with their immediate and extended families on their first trip.
  • Safety and affordability are top considerations in choosing lodging: 64% of respondents said they consider health and safety protocols in deciding for their accommodations in their next trip.
  • Filipinos are veering away from mass travel towards less crowded, more meaningful, and slower travel: 53% of respondents prefer traveling to less crowded, off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • Filipinos are responsible tourists: 8 out of 10 Filipinos often consider the environment and sustainability in choosing their accommodation.
  • Filipinos want to reconnect with nature. Respondents most wanted to travel close to nature for their first trip after the pandemic, followed by a family member’s or friend’s home.
  • Beach and nature escapades top Filipinos’ bucket lists. Boracay remains the top domestic travel destination for Filipinos, followed by Palawan, Baguio, Siargao Island, and Tagaytay.

In response to the demands of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, Airbnb expanded its global Frontline Stays initiative in April 2020 to provide housing to COVID-19 responders, in partnership with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF). 

A comprehensive cleaning program called the Enhanced Cleaning Protocol, in partnership with experts including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, was also set in place for all Airbnb listings. Its Extenuating Circumstances Policy additionally allows for guests to have cancellation and refund options, and for hosts to cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status.

Airbnb has more than 4 million hosts globally, with more than 800 million guests arrivals worldwide since the company’s founding 11 years ago. Its Airbnb Experiences—activities that immerse guests in local culture—was shifted to Online Experiences in April 2020, allowing guests to experience new activities and hosts to earn an income, all in the safety of their homes.

According to the platform, the Philippines has over 39,000 listings as of 2019, directly and indirectly supporting 161, 300 jobs, and contributing $1 billion to the local economy.

“We all are very optimistic that travel as a sector is resilient,” Mr. Bajaj said at the virtual event. “The pandemic is still on and we need to be cognizant of the fact that there still is vulnerability, so to speak, but we are very optimistic that we will bounce back, if you look at travel history—purely because of our need to connect as human beings.” — Patricia B. Mirasol