Philippines a ‘cheap’ tourist destination? 6 tourism fallacies

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Outgoing Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President Aileen Clemente said there are 6 fallacies that prevent the country from maximizing its tourism potential.

PHILIPPINE TOURISM. A foreigner joins an Igorot community dance. Photo taken from the National Tourism Development Plan.

MANILA, Philippines – If you think you know tourism, think again.

Outgoing Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) President Aileen Clemente told reporters on Wednesday, November 14, that there are many tourism fallacies that are hindering the country from determining how it can maximize the Philippines’ potential of becoming a tourism hub.

1. Tourism refers to hotels and activities

Clemente said tourism is not only the accommodations and the activities that tourists enjoy in a particular place. She said tourism starts from the time a passenger boards a plane to a destination to the time the passenger boards a plane to go home.

This is why the little things matter. These small things include flight delays, numerous forms, long lines, and even the length of time one spends to reach the gate or lounge.

She added this is also the reason why the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 was deemed the worst airport in the world. Clemente said its not about the structure per se but the service.

Clemente said it takes passengers who go through the NAIA around 45 minutes to an hour to complete the check in, immigration, and security process.

“Tourism is an experience and not just about the accomodations. Isa lang ang magkamali dun, sira na yung experience,” Clemente said.

2. Tourists look for adventure

Clemente said while “adventure” or extreme activities are welcome activities in the tourism sector, they are not enough because not all tourists look for these activities.

She said what the Philippines can do is to increase cultural and heritage experiences to attract more tourists. Clemente said tourism, as one of the experts in a recent IATA event said, is the first worldwide web which tourists can tap and experience to know more about a particular place in the world.

For one, she said, tourism preferrences vary from one region to another and one country from another. Clemente said while adventure and eco-tourism works for European tourists, ASEAN tourists look for great shopping opportunities.

Japanese and Korean tourists look for beach getaways. For US tourists, particularly second generation Filipinos, the main selling point is tracing their roots so visiting friends and family is what they look for.

Clemente said that among US tourists, there is also a growing interest in the Philippines history, particularly its role and involvement in World War II. She said more and more schools are coming here for educational purposes.

3. Tourists come to the Philippines because its cheap

Clemente said this is one of the biggest fallacies there is. She said its not cheap to come to the Philippines compared to some destinations in Asia.

She said compared to China or Bangkok, tourists spend an average of atleast $50 to $100 more in the Philippines. This amount can already be spent on additional shopping or a better hotel.

The country’s advantage is its people and their facility of the English language. Since Filipinos have a good grasp of English, the country becomes a far-less complicated and more friendly destination for tourists.

4. Visitors come to the Philippines for tourism purposes only

Clemente said that the Philippines must position itself not only as a tourist haven but a business hub as well. She said more tourists can come to the Philippines through businessmen or businesses themselves.

She added that these tourists even spend more than regular tourists because they can afford better hotels and facilities.

5. The Philippines is not a good destination because of travel bans

Contrary to common belief, Clemente said the Philippines has always been considered a ‘green light’ destination in the tourism industry, even with the issuance of travel bans.

One of the issues that were initially thought as very damaging to the industry was the issue with China that led to the halting of charters to the country.

Clemente said these charters only include first-time tourists and they do not comprise the majority of tourists that visit the country. She said there are many independent travellers that come to the Philippines. She added that the charters from China are already slowly coming back.

6. We need a ‘premier’ airport to attract more tourists

Clemente said what the country needs to usher in more tourists to its shores are international gateways or airports.

It doesn’t matter if these airports are premier or not, what matters is the number of airports, the quality of runways, and the size of the terminals to make flying in and out of the country safe and convenient.

She said that in the US, they have several gateways and none of their gateways are dubbed as a premier airport. They just have many airports which can handle arrivals on a day-to-day basis. –

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