Known for its pristine white sand beaches, delicious food, and always being greeted with a big smile by the locals, the Philippines looks to re-open its borders this year to international travelers. With the daily reported COVID-19 cases drastically reduced, the Philippines have done an outstanding job controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Tourism plays a huge role in the economy of the Philippines accounting for almost 15 percent of the nation’s revenue. Since the pandemic started almost 2 years ago tourism has been down 75 percent. But Philippines travel is looking bright for 2022.
The Philippines has taken adequate measures to prepare for the return of international tourists such as targeted mass vaccinations for hospitality staff in the tourism industry and implementing new cleaning and sanitization processes to ensure utmost hygiene safety. There have also been talks of a green lane tourism initiative similar to other Southeast Asian nations that would provide vaccinated travelers a much easier and streamlined entry to the country.
While it is too soon to say when the international borders to the Philippines will fully reopen, what we do know is that the country has an exciting year ahead of them and have taken great strides to position themselves to welcome back travelers. Here’s what the country has going on in 2022 that tells us that the Philippines will open very soon.
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) comes to Philippines
One of the first major announcements of 2022 is that the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit will be held in Manila from April 20 – 22. This is critical for the Philippines because it will bring key representatives, executives, and other top tier level decision makers in the travel industry to witness the changes that have been implemented since borders were opened. If a reason to combine business and leisure travel in an exotic island isn’t enough, these delegates will also have the first hand opportunity to experience the safety measures being taken by the government and tourism sectors as whole.
The Philippines was awarded the “Safe Travel Stamp” by the WTTC in September 2020 as an indication for travelers to recognize destinations and businesses around the world who have adopted health and hygiene protocols that meet the globalized standards. The list of the hotels that have received recognition in the Philippines can be found here.
By holding such an important summit in Manila, the Philippines will have the opportunity to show tens of thousands of people attending that the country has put the effective safety measures in place to reopen safely and aid its much needed recovery in the tourism sector.
Expanded Domestic Flights with low-cost carrier AirAsia
Another change for the coming year is that Philippines low-cost carrier, AirAsia Philippines, has increased their market share to almost 20 percent in the country. Looking forward to January 2022, AirAsia Philippines is adding more domestic flights to handle the expected demand, especially to its popular tourist destinations such as Kalibo, Caticlan, and Puerto Princesa. This alone shows that AirAsia is ramping up its flight schedules to not only handle the increase of domestic travel among Philippine nationals, but also the increase of international passengers traveling amongst the islands.
In January 2022 the scheduled flight frequency will be up over 40 percent, compared to previous years, to handle the increased travelers on top of the holiday traffic. Also, as 2021 came to an end, bookings were almost at capacity during the holiday season – a much different story than during the pandemic and a much more positive outlook. Bookings are also now being made months in advance compared to during the pandemic when the average booking window was 3 days in advance, and reserved primarily for essential travel only. This is a clear indicator that travel confidence is well underway and travelers have intentions of making future travel plans instead of booking last minute trips.
To take advantage of the AirAsia expanded flights; check out some of the signature Asia Bespoke Tour guaranteed departures.
The New Clark City
The ground-breaking development started back in 2016, and this year will start the much anticipated project of creating a new, sustainable, and fully integrated city. New Clark City, previously known as Clark Green City, is located about 70 miles north of the capital, Manila and was the host site of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. With help from various investors and urban planners, this new city will provide its residents with fully sustainable and controlled utilities, transportation and environmental protection like none other in the Philippines. Electric vehicles, modern technologies, and lots of green space are just some of the things to look forward to in this new city. The city has also been geographically established in an area that is less prone to floods due to the elevation and earthquakes based on the location. This provides safer and more livable conditions making it an attractive relocation to those debating moving.
The new city also comes with a new railway system that connects New Clark City to Manila as well as other cities along the way. To date most travelers that visit the Philippines make use of privately hired car services, the rail system will be a major improvement to the commute times and provides a new and up to date rail system to travel amongst major cities.
For the third consecutive year, the Philippines has won the World’s Top Dive Destination in the World Travel Awards (WTA) in 2021. Honored for its magnificent Coral Triangle, home to 600 species, 2,000 reef fish species and six out of the world’s seven species of marine turtles, the country’s rich marine ecosystem is among the richest on the planet. For these reasons, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat says that it is, “ our great responsibility of protecting and conserving our underwater resources so that these will also be enjoyed and experienced in their pristine natural state by future generations.”
The Philippines has been putting a great deal of effort into the sustainability efforts all throughout the country in the past years focusing on specific areas one at a time. Starting in Boracay back in 2018, the Philippines closed a major part of the island to major issues in correcting the waste management issues and implementing strict measures to avoid overtoursim. After the reopening of Boracay, hundreds of electric vehicles were donated to the island to reduce the carbon exhaust and strict waste disposal protocols were put in place to control the waste entering the sea.
Another popular destination is El Nido, which has also gone through rehabilitation efforts to preserve its ecosystem and reduce the degradation of the island. Cleaning up waste, properly disposing of trash and understanding how the impact decisions today make on the future. These are some of the ways the Philippines has engaged to pave a brighter future for the nation as well as protect the islands and preserve the natural resources for greater periods of time.
It is MORE Fun in the Philippines
The year 2022’s annual budget is over 10 percent greater than previous years, meaning more funding for the country and more funding for the recovery of the impact of the pandemic on travel. Funds are now being allocated towards reaching their targeted vaccinated population as well as expanding and upgrading their current hospital facilities and equipment. Implementing modern technology and processes will allow not only the country to thrive but also be prepared and capable of handling the return of travel.
As of December 2021, roughly 50 percent of the target population was vaccinated and over 80 percent of the tourism sector workers were vaccinated. In the first quarter of 2022 there are several initiatives to reach their desired figures bringing the country closer to herd immunity greatly reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
At the end of the day, while there is no set in stone date when this pandemic will be over, it is clear the Philippines is doing what is necessary to be prepared for tourism to resume. The new year looks promising as more people are vaccinated and initiatives are put in place by the government and tourism sectors to bring foreign travelers back into the country and to preserve the islands. With new and increased protocols when it comes to cleanliness, hygiene, vaccinations, and new cleaner and sustainable initiatives, Philippines will prevail in the coming year.