Filipinos going for ride in the country


A new trend is emerging in the local travel industry—Filipinos are becoming less and less “a foreigner in their own land.”

According to the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, an uptrend in domestic tourism is apparent both in the business and leisure segments.

PTAA vice president John Paul M. Cabalza, who is in charge of matters related to inbound business, says the growth is “significant” and driven primarily by the increasing availability of budget fares, particularly in airline services.

Cabalza also points to the widening array of choices in accommodation in an equally increasing range of destinations.

While PTAA does not represent the entirety of Philippine tourism industry—there are other groups within and outside the country—the growth in traffic could not be questioned.

“We see this in terms of the number of people going to conventions that are being held in the regions and also in terms of families, group of friends and individuals traveling for fun,” Cabalza explains.

Cabalza, who is also managing director of Cencorp Travel & Tours, says adding to the growth in domestic travel is the tendency of groups of professionals to go to to the provinces for their conventions and high-profile gatherings, rather than venture overseas.

An example are doctors, who want to be accessible to patients in case of emergencies but also want to be far enough to get that much-needed break.

The latest data from the Department of Tourism show that regional destinations are giving Metro Manila—the traditional mecca for foreign and even domestic guests—a run for its visitor money.

From January to September 2007, Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and northern Mindanao each got a greater share of the total number of tourists.

While Metro Manila racked up 7.9 percent of some 10.7 million foreign and local travelers counted in that period, the four regions got 17.6 percent, 9.2 percent, 13.7 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

Of some 849,000 visitors that went to the national capital, foreigners outnumbered domestic visitors two to one.

At the same time, 1.6 million of the 1.89 million visitors in Southern Tagalog were Filipinos. A million of these local guests went to Laguna, while the next most sought-after experiences were those in Batangas and Palawan.

In Western Visayas, most of some 980,000 visitors there went to Iloilo, Aklan and Guimaras. In Central Visayas, many of the travelers spread out in Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental.

In Northern Mindanao, most of the 1.1 million visitors went to Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental.

Still, two other regions—Bicol and Cordillera—are threatening to overtake Metro Manila in terms of drawing tourists.

Bicol accounted for some 696,000 or 6.5 percent of all tourists in the period, most of which visited Camarines Sur, Masbate and Legaspi City, Albay.

The Cordilleras, with its rice terraces and mountain hideaways, had some 859,000 or 7.8 percent of total visitors. Most of them went to Baguio City, Benguet and Ifugao.

While the destinations mentioned are more or less traditional in the sense that they are expectedly tourist drawers, the Department of Tourism as well as the private sector are taking steps to promote less-visited destinations all over the country.

This was observed during the 15th TravelTour Expo held SMX Convention Center last February.

Themed “Beyond Borders,” the expo was aimed at promoting activities and destinations that are more than the usual fares among tourists.

For its part, the DOT partnered with domestic airlines and hotel operators in the cities of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga, and Davao as well as in the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Sarangani to call more attention to these provinces.