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3 in 10 Filipino tourists still worry about COVID-19 — study

Tourists flock to surfing spots in Baler, Aurora during summer. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THOUGH worries about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have waned across Southeast Asia, tourists from the Philippines admit having high levels of concern about the pandemic while travelling, according to a study.

The April 2023 study conducted by Singapore-based consumer research firm Milieu Insight found that three in 10 Filipino tourists still worry about COVID-19, exhibiting the highest level of concern in the region.

“Safety of travel and destination” is the number-one priority for Filipinos when travelling domestically, garnering 69% of respondents’ votes, the survey said. This is followed by “cost of the whole vacation” at 58% and “travel spots and sceneries” at 47%.

For Indonesians, Malaysians, and Thais, safety is their second priority. For Vietnamese, it is only the fifth.

Milieu Insight attributed the Philippines’ high level of concern to “rising cases in the country as reported by the Department of Health in the last week of April 2023.”

The weekly COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila rose to 14.3% on April 27 from 9% on April 20, according to the OCTA Research Group.


The study found that tourists in the region have an overall positive view of travel, with about eight in 10 respondents keen to do so domestically.

About 85% of respondents also said they plan to embark on at least two domestic trips this year. The duration of travel per trip remains stable in all five markets, showing preference for three to four days per trip.

According to the study — which surveyed 2,500 working individuals aged 20-65 in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam — beach holidays remain most popular, with destinations known for beautiful beaches ranking first in each country.

Boracay in the Philippines, Bali in Indonesia, Da Nang in Vietnam, Sabah in Malaysia, and Phi Phi Island in Thailand are the top tourist spots that natives of those respective countries wish to visit.

For Filipinos, Baguio and Palawan are the next two destinations they would like to visit.

“From sightseeing to relaxing holidays, travel planners should consider that Southeast Asian travelers are drawn to activities that offer them opportunities to relax and unwind,” said Milieu Insight.

The 2023 study also found that, when planning holiday activities, tourists in the region prove to be foodies with about five in 10 planning a food travel experience.

“Food trip” is the number-one vacation activity for all markets except Thailand, which only has it as third.

Tourists in the Philippines have “swimming” as the second most popular activity, with around five in 10 respondents choosing it for their vacation to-do list. The third is “relaxing at a cafe or tourist spot”, garnering 44% of votes.

When it comes to comfort in booking flights, the national full-service air carrier Philippine Airlines was ranked first by Filipinos, with 76% saying they prefer it over the others. Next are Cebu Pacific at 67% and AirAsia at 49%. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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