Chinese overseas travel sentiment grows as first-mover

According to the China Philippines Travel Sentiment Survey, conducted in the first week of May by hospitality consulting group C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications, the key conclusion is that the first wave of international travellers will be attracted to Philippine beach destinations whose appeal has been enhanced by the Covid-19 self-isolation and social distancing hangover protocols.

Post crisis resumption of international travel is a key economic issue for the Philippines where tourism accounts for 12.7% of GDP. While domestic staycations are likely to be a short-term cash flow strategy for hotel and tourism establishments in the months ahead, the reopening of the overseas market is critical to stabilise the sector.

South Korea and China accounted for nearly half of all international visitors to the country last year, and mounting prospects are likely to see intra-regional travel coming back online for the remainder of the year. Latching onto this, a new consumer travel survey undertaken in first tier cities across China shows that 61% of respondents would like to visit the Philippines within 2020.

Ranking preferred Philippine destinations by Chinese travellers, aside from Manila the locations in order were all beach resort locations led by Boracay, Bohol and Cebu. Other trends showed that 82% of early demand was from independent travellers versus tour groups, with almost 30% opting for a five-day length of stay.

Another insight of the market research is that early return Chinese travellers are increasingly looking beyond the mass market machine of Ctrip and other digital channels like Alibaba’s Fliggy and WeChat are becoming travel booking marketplaces.

Summing up key report findings, C9 Hotelworks’ managing director Bill Barnett said: “The new norm for travel and hotels of social distancing should be about physical distancing. The challenge is to address the heartbeat of hospitality which is social connections.”

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