PSA: Pinoy wanderers hike spending in vacations abroad

Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo / Special to the BusinessMirror

FILIPINOS are leaving the Philippines and giving in to their wanderlust for tourist destinations abroad.

According to the Philippine Tourism Satellite Accounts released by the Philippine Statistics Authority’s, outbound tourism expenditures surged by 88.6 percent to some P190 billion in 2022, from 2021’s P100.4 billion. Outbound tourism expenditures refer to the spending of Filipino visitors while traveling outside the country. It may include expenses of same-day visitors as well as overseas Filipino workers, and thus fall under “imports of goods of services” in the country’s balance of payments.

Last year’s outbound tourism expenditures were 44 percent short of the level in 2019, prior to the pandemic, which reached close to P342 billion.

In an interview, Aileen Clemente, president of Rajah Travel Corp., said the most popular holiday spot for Filipinos continues to be “Japan, still our number one. This is followed by other Southeast Asian neighbors—Singapore and Bangkok. Then of course, Hong Kong.”

Tips for traveling abroad

However, she said the vacation sports in the Western Hemisphere are not far behind. Filipinos are also traveling to “Europe, the United States, and Canada, especially given that if you have a US visa, it won’t be difficult for you to go to Canada.” Rajah Travel is the local agent for Insight Vacations, an exclusive collection of premium guided tours and cruises, a brand under the The Travel Corp.

She noted that international travel is still not back to 2019 levels in terms of the number of transactions, “but definitely way past 50 percent.” She attributed this to the continued limitation of international flights “because of the lack of pilots, crew, and planes. You really have to book very early to get good rates. Even getting visas for some countries takes some time,” Clemente added.

For those raring to explore the world this year, after being cooped up at home during the pandemic, the tourism leader offers the following tips:

■ Book early to get good rates;

■ Include contingencies in planning like secure your travel insurance; and

■ Ensure you know visa and medical requirements in places where you transit and at your final destination, and on return flights.

Unexplored places

For those who still have fears for health reasons, Clemente said there are new less-traveled places people might want to visit instead of the usual popular tourist sports. She cited Salina, Italy, parts of the Balkans, Gangwon in South Korea, along with Wakayama or Kyushu in Japan as examples of less traveled places but still offering a lot of beautiful sites and fun activities in which to engage.

Meanwhile, inbound tourism expenditure expanded to P369 billion last year, a jump of over 1,200 percent from the 2021 level of some P27 billion. It was just 33 percent less than the P549 billion spent by visiting tourists in 2019. The Philippines reopened to international travelers on February 10, 2022.

According to the PSA, inbound tourism expenditures ranked fifth (5.9 percent) among the country’s biggest export items in 2022, after electronic products (36 percent); business services (24 percent); other exports of goods (6.7 percent); and telecommunication, computer, and information services (6.6 percent).

The Department of Tourism has just unveiled its enhanced tourism branding anchored on the “Love the Philippines” slogan, which Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said the agency will keep despite the drubbing it received after showing a tourism video, which inadvertently promoted foreign destinations. (See, “DOT bid out P550-million projects for rebranding campaign,” in the BusinessMirror, July 5, 2023.)

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