The new year may have started out bleak for the Philippines with the new surge in COVID-19 cases.
To better understand, however, the travel behavior of Filipinos in 2022 amid the emergence of new variants and implementation of reworked protocols, AirAsia Philippines has commissioned a survey with big-data analytics firm, Tangere. The survey has found that 7 out of 10 Filipinos are still keen on pushing through with their planned air travel in the next nine months – an encouraging indicator for the aviation industry this year.
The survey, conducted in December of 2021, validated AirAsia Philippines’ forecast on the growing optimism and enthusiasm of Filipinos towards travel and their increasing confidence in engaging with air transport.
“We are seeing that Filipinos are now much more confident to travel as we as a nation gain a better understanding of the pandemic and develop a more fitting culture of safety and vigilance. At AirAsia, we are observing an uptrend in long-term bookings which signifies a more positive outlook on travel plans this year. But we are not letting our guards down. We will be consistent in prioritizing the safety and well-being of our guests as they fly to their intended destinations,” shares Ricky Isla, chief executive officer of AirAsia Philippines.
Isla added that with the surge in cases in early 2022, the low-cost airline has set in motion an action plan that ensures the wellbeing of its human resources while optimizing operations through strategic manpower assignments. The plan includes a 24/7 COVID-19 taskforce, augmentation of manpower in NCR from provincial hubs, and reintegration of hibernating Allstars. All in all, AirAsia Philippines is confident it can meet the demand for travel this year.
2022 Filipino Travel Behavior and Sentiment
The survey commissioned by AirAsia Philippines shows that Filipinos are ready to stroll out their luggage and be back on the road this year – albeit with heightened caution. 60 percent of total respondents of the AirAsia survey intend to travel domestically, with Palawan (77%), Boracay (69%), Cebu (58%), Siargao (57% percent) and Bohol (52%) topping the list of preferred destinations. Davao also ranked high among Visayan travelers, getting the thumbs up of 52 percent of pollees from the region. Should international border restrictions relax this 2022, 5 out of 10 Filipinos are also ready to travel abroad, picking Seoul, South Korea (78%); Singapore (73); and Osaka, Osaka, Japan (71%) as their must-visits.
The survey results indicate that Filipinos will be traveling in smaller groups in 2022, preferring to travel with families (69%), partners (40%), and close friends (24%) over work colleagues, solo trips, and group tours. This also reflects the yearning of some Filipinos to reconnect with their loved ones from whom they were isolated in the past couple of years. 53 percent of respondents cited the need to be with families and friends as the main reason for deciding to push through with their travel, while the need for a vacation (52%) and confidence in the LGU control of COVID-19 (49%) closely follow.
The total travel expense also strongly influences the plans of Filipino tourists this year. Only 13 percent of the respondents are willing to spend Php 30,001 to Php 40,000 in total for their travel, as 15 and 38 percent of them limit their budget to Php 15,000 to Php 20,000, and sub-Php14,999, respectively. Frugality has been expected by air carriers given the economic impact of Covid-19 and the long list of essentials in a pandemic, as well as the need to grow personal emergency funds. In line with this, Filipinos keep an eye out for bang-for-buck offers that can help them in their trips like complete tour package deals of Flights + Hotel + Tours and Activities (66%), discounted Flight + Hotel bundles (61%), and discounted Food + Activities bundles (59%). Among the respondents, those that hail from Mindanao have shown higher interest in the aforementioned. This is also reflected in the reasons why flyers consider the world’s best low-cost airline for flight bookings over competitors – value for money (80%) and better promos and packages (60%).
Isla shares the optimism of all air carriers on the growth of the industry this year, stating, “We at AirAsia are ready to welcome a bigger traveling populace this year. Our intensified multi-layered safety plan is in place as we maintain our airline’s DNA of reduced cost structure, better product offerings, and lower fees in support of domestic tourism recovery. We may have to deal with a constantly changing reality brought on by emerging variants and new protocols. But we are confident that we are ready to meet the demand for air transport.”
AirAsia Philippines recently reported a positive 11 percent increase in seat sales on a week-on-week basis in the first week of January. The top five destinations which contributed to the increased seat sale include Tacloban, Cebu, Caticlan, Panglao and Davao. To entice more guests to book their future travels, AirAsia Philippines is offering a P22 one-way base fare sale for bookings made until January 16. Guests en route to AirAsia Philippines destinations such as Puerto Princesa, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Kalibo, Bacolod, and the reactivated Clark to Caticlan (Boracay) and Cebu until 30 September 2022 can avail of the P22 one-way base fare promo.