By Brontë H. Lacsamana
Sustainable travel and more inclusive tourism recovery are important for Filipino tourists, according to the survey “Rebuilding tourism in Asia-Pacific: A more conscious traveller?” commissioned by online travel platform Airbnb in October.
“In the wake of the disconnection and economic hardship brought by the pandemic, people are becoming increasingly thoughtful and deliberate about how they can use travel to make a positive contribution to the communities they’re visiting,” Michelle Goh, Airbnb’s public policy head for Southeast Asia, said in an official statement.
“They’re thinking deeply about how they can put their tourist dollars to best use and economically empower towns and rural communities that have struggled,” added Ms. Goh, “And they’re looking to immerse themselves in these communities and forge meaningful connections, while also minimizing any unintended negative impacts.”
The research and analysis, conducted by Economist Impact, showed majority of Filipinos wanting to immerse in local communities to find out how to minimize their negative impacts and even benefit rural destinations during their economic recovery.
Among the specific travel priorities the survey found were the following:
- Approximately 75% of Filipinos value using travel as a way to meaningfully connect with communities and culture.
- Over 70% of respondents say they are more inclined to contribute to the local economy, and will factor this into where they travel and how they spend money as they are conscious that communities are in need of economic recovery.
- 76% of respondents say they will be more conscious when it comes to familiarizing themselves with what’s important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution.
- Nearly 50% say it is important that they’re not contributing to issues such as overtourism.
- Over 60% are willing to build sustainable tourism practices into their holiday plans.
- Over 50% of Filipinos polled plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are not currently popular with tourists.
- 60% plan to take workcations or work remotely when they can.
- Looking ahead, 62% plan to engage in more domestic travel than in the past, with the aim of allocating more of their travel budget within their own country.
Sustainable tourism practices that tourists are most willing to engage in are:
- Forgoing comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes
- Paying a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices
- Avoiding destinations faced with sustainability challenges
Due to the ongoing risks of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), such as the anticipated Omicron variant, Airbnb assured via e-mail that “health and safety remain key priorities.”
Their Enhanced Clean protocol, endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council, sets standardized guidelines for cleaning and sanitization in the home sharing industry. Hosts are required to commit to these COVID-19 safety and cleaning practices.
According to the platform, the Philippine Department of Tourism has been their ally in supporting travel recovery and rebuilding tourism hand in hand with communities.
“As demonstrated by our survey findings, we’re seeing a trend where people are attempting to make their travel decisions more sustainable — economically, culturally and environmentally — and hoping to have a more positive impact by benefiting local communities,” said Pratima Singh, Economist Impact’s policy and insights manager.
Airbnb’s Ms. Goh also said: “It’s critically important that both industry and government come together to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”