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How and where will Filipinos be traveling in 2021 and beyond?

By THERESE JAMORA-GARCEAU, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 06, 2021 4:00 pm

This year, Filipinos want to travel safely, mindfully, and with their families.

That was what Airbnb found when it commissioned its Philippine travel trends survey 2021 with international data analytics firm YouGov.

“When travel resumes this year, it will no longer be about where adventures will take place,” says Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb’s general manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. “In fact, it’s going to be more about who they are spent with.”

“Beachside destinations are definitely on Filipinos’ bucket list for 2021 travel,” adds Cheryl Tay, Airbnb’s communications manager for Southeast Asia, who had a photo of Kwebang Lampas beach in Pagbilao, Quezon, as her Zoom background. “It might not be the most well-known beach, and it’s pretty far from tourist hotspots, but it is well loved by many local Filipino families who discover it when they travel and stay with our Airbnb hosts Eddie and Rose, who live nearby. And the guests love the soft white sand and clear waters as well as the peaceful serenity of the beach.”

Unspoiled hidden jewels like Kwebang Lampas are what vacation-rental platform Airbnb is all about – “encouraging Filipinos to discover your backyard in a new and unique way,” according to Bajaj, who is discovering the Philippines himself via an Airbnb Online Experience that will teach him how to cook a couple of Filipino dishes.

Over half of the respondents prefer traveling to less-crowded, off-the-beaten-path destinations this year.

“It’s about hosted travel. It’s about exploring a new destination through the eyes of your local hosts like Eddie and Rose, who can bring you to their favorite places and offer you the best tips,” she said.

As of 2019, an Oxford economics impact study that Airbnb conducted showed that they had over 39,000 listings in the Philippines that generated about US$1 billion in revenue and supported 161,000 jobs.

“The economic activity comprises the earnings of our hosts and guest spending in local neighborhoods,” noted Bajaj. “We have traditionally seen that when people stay in Airbnbs in any country, they tend to spend a lot more in the local neighborhood and the local economy gets benefited from it.”

Boracay, Palawan, Baguio, Siargao Island and Tagaytay are the top five destinations that Pinoys are choosing when they find it safe and easy to travel again.

Here are the major travel trends Airbnb discovered in its survey:

  • 2021 will be a year of meaningful travel for Filipinos. The pandemic has strengthened the ties of Filipino families due to the long lockdown, and 88 percent of respondents said that they felt more connected with their immediate and extended families. “While they stayed indoors during the lockdown, their ideal travel is a safe getaway from home, where they can create more meaningful family moments in the future,” Bajaj says.
  • Family vacations remain a top priority for Filipinos. “Over 60 percent of respondents plan on connecting with their immediate and extended families on their first trip, whether domestically or internationally,” Bajaj says. “Interestingly, shopping and business trips are now starting to rank last. Clearly there is a big shift towards connecting with your loved ones, traveling with them and making meaningful memories all over again.”
  • Safety and affordability are top considerations in choosing lodging. Early on Airbnb partnered with the US Center for Disease Control and consulted with former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on designing its Enhanced Cleaning protocols. “We are now working with local medical experts in the Philippines to ensure that these guidelines are also in accordance with any local state protocols that are put in place,” Bajaj assures us.
  • Filipinos are veering away from mass travel towards less crowded, more mindful and slower travel. Over half of the respondents prefer traveling to less-crowded, off-the-beaten-path destinations this year. “This is something we’re also seeing in other parts of the world,” he says. “The need to go to places where they have more control over their surroundings, the need to visit local destinations, and most importantly, move away from crowded places, find newer retreats and spend more time with family.”
  • Filipinos are responsible tourists. Eight out of 10 Filipinos consider impact on the environment when they make their travel choices. “Sustainability, as well as the impact on environment, is something that is top of mind for most Filipinos when they’re going to choose their accommodation in 2021. Staying indoors, people have become more responsible, and it has given them time to introspect on the choices they want to make as they get out of this pandemic and start traveling again.”
  • Filipinos want to reconnect with nature. Most of the respondents wanted to travel close to nature for the first trip after the pandemic, followed by a family or a friend’s home.
  • Beach and nature escapades top Filipinos’ bucket lists. Boracay, Palawan, Baguio, Siargao Island and Tagaytay are the top five destinations that Pinoys are choosing when they find it safe and easy to travel again.

A need and an opportunity

In 2008, Airbnb started because of two main factors: a need and an opportunity. Founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia realized they couldn’t afford to pay their rent in San Francisco, so, mindful that a big design conference was coming into town, they hit upon a new idea: “Why not rent this space to guests who are coming to attend this conference?”

So they went to the store, bought a few airbeds, inflated them and invited a few guests to come and stay with them. “Three guests from across the world ended up staying that particular week in San Francisco with them, and this was the first Airbnb at Ross Street in San Francisco,” Bajaj relates.

 Airbnb founders (from left) Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

Eventually, Brian and Joe got together with old roommate Nathan Blecharczyk to grow Airbnb into the multinational community it is today. Now in over 222 countries, Airbnb has over four million hosts globally on its platform. “Last year, we announced more than 800 million guests have checked into an Airbnb listing since the company was founded 11 years ago,” notes Bajaj.

The platform connects hosts with travelers directly and promotes personal interaction. Safety and privacy are built in at each stage of the journey through features such as risk scoring, secure payments, account protection, and reviews from both guests and hosts.

Before the pandemic I would use Airbnb for trips abroad like to Japan, and felt more at home in the community I was staying in, as well as impressed with my host, who said I could contact him at all hours if ever a problem arose.

At the height of the pandemic when countries locked down, people still felt such a need to travel and connect that Airbnb developed Online Experiences, and it became their bestselling product, with hosts all over the world sharing their passions through virtual meetings.

“More than 50,000 seats were booked in the first two weeks of the launch globally,” Bajaj says. This weekend he himself is going to learn how to make lumpia and pancit from a Pinoy Online Experience host, “and I just can’t wait to surprise my family with my cooking skills that I will acquire over the weekend.”

Banner and thumbnail caption: Paradise awaits:  Superhost Stays on Airbnb feature beach destinations and beautiful accommodations.