Philippines: Analysis of Destination 2017-2019
The Philippine Islands (there are more than seven thousand of them) are no once recognized as the most beautiful tropical archipelago in the world. Primordial nature, mountain ridges, volcanoes and cliffs, underground rivers, hot springs, caves and lakes, skyscrapers and colonial houses in Manila, modern shopping centers, delicious exotic dishes, clubs and a high level of service - all this attracts tourists here.
Today the Philippines offer tourists various types of recreation. First of all, it is a beach holiday. The most popular beaches are located on the islands of Borkai, Cebu, Palawan, Mactan, Bohol.
The Philippines is also a popular ecotourism destination. In nature reserves and national parks, tourists are offered watching for birds and animals. The most famous ecotourism destination is Palawan Island with the El Nido region and the Underground River Puerto Princesa.
The Philippines is rightfully considered as the Asian capital of diving: experts around the world call the archipelago as one of the areas of the greatest marine biological diversity on Earth.
Active forms of recreation are in great demand: climbing mountains and volcanoes, surfing and kiting. The Philippines is also attractive in terms of shopping, as there are three of the largest shopping centers in the world: SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and SM City North EDSA.
According to Neil P. Ballesteros, the head of the Philippines Department of Tourism Marketing in Europe, in 2017 45,000 Russian tourists visited the country. “But our goal is 100,000 tourists from Russia per year and we wish to reach this level in the coming years. The leaders in visits are South Korea, China, the North American continent and Japan. Russia is not even in the top ten yet, but we consider your market to be developing and promising.”
According to all market participants, the main factor which restricts the Philippines as a tourist destination in Russia is the high cost of air transportation in the absence of a direct flight. This directly affects the final price of a tour package. Direct flight to the Philippines would greatly help the destination to grow. Quite convenient is Qatar Airways flight (via Doha to Manila or Cebu, the flight time is about 17 hours with change) or Emirates Airlines (via Dubai to Manila, about 18 hours with change).
A tourist, choosing the Philippines, is quite different, his portrait varies depending on the client base, the range of offers of a particular tour operator company and the type of vacation requested (beach or combined tour). Combined tours, mainly with visits to Japan and South Korea - are in quite good demand.
Nevertheless, according to general estimates of Russian tour operators, most tourists travel here for a beach holiday, asking accommodation in hotels of different budgets - from 3 * to 5 * on the basis of breakfast. The only thing that can be said is that these tourists are not from the economy sector in its traditional sense. At the same time, the biggest share of the Russian tourist flow to the Philippines today is occupied by organized tourists.
The experts of the destination emphasize that the Philippine Islands have great potential for the Russian tourist. Among the positive factors affecting the choice of destinations for leisure we can call visa-free entry, a sufficient number of regular flights, accommodation for every taste and budget. But due to frequent typhoons, lack of direct transportation and a long enough flight, tourists often choose more accessible island destinations.
All tour operators, working on the destination, agree with the fact that among the Russians the most popular beach resort in the Philippines is the island of Boracay. However, from April 26, 2018, this island, famous for its long white sand beaches, is closed for "ecological rehabilitation". The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed by his decree a temporary six-month ban on visiting Boracay. The head of the state is outraged by the "environmental violations" which made the island, in his words, like a "cesspool". This question was discussed during the press-conference at ATF 2019 in Vietnam.
According to the Russian tour operators, this will not affect the total flow of tourists to the country, since, in addition to Boracay, the Russians also rest on the islands of Cebu and Palawan.