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New Form of ‘Conscious Travel’ Emerges as Filipinos Prioritize Sustainable and Inclusive Tourism

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Filipino travelers are embracing the travel revolution with a laser focus on how they can ensure a more positive and empowering experience for the communities they visit, new research shows.

The rise of the ‘conscious traveler’ is presenting an opportunity for communities to not only grow their local economies off the back of the travel rebound but also welcome an evolving form of empowering, win-win tourism that emphasizes genuine connection. This new form of travel also supports the Philippine Department of Tourism’s 2022 recovery plan for a more sustainable and socially responsible industry.

A new Airbnb-commissioned research and analysis by Economist Impact,* which surveyed more than 4,500 people across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines, found that over 80 percent of Filipinos polled said it is important that their travel creates a positive impact for locals.

The study also examined attitudes toward holistically sustainable travel that encompasses social, economic, cultural, community and environmental aspects. In the Philippines, creating equitable outcomes and income for locals, as well as engaging with new social experiences and meaningful connections emerged as the top two most important aspects of sustainable travel for those surveyed.

The research also found:

  • Approximately 75 percent of Filipinos value using travel as a way to meaningfully connect with communities and culture. This includes immersing themselves in local communities.
  • More than 70 percent of respondents say they are more inclined to contribute to the local economy, and will factor this into where they travel and how they spend their money. This highlights their awareness that communities are in need of economic recovery.
  • Seventy-six percent of respondents say they will be more conscious when it comes to familiarizing themselves with what is important to the communities they are visiting and how they can make a contribution.
  • More than 60 percent are willing to incorporate sustainable tourism practices in their holiday plans. The three practices they are most willing to engage in forgoing comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes, paying a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices and avoiding destinations faced with sustainability challenges.
  • Almost half say it is important that they do not contribute to issues such as overtourism.

The research also highlights how the travel revolution is presenting new opportunities for rural areas, particularly those in emerging economies, as travelers become more open to exploring new ways of traveling and living.

  • Over half of Filipinos polled plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are not currently popular with tourists.
  • Sixty percent plan to take workcations or work remotely when they can.
  • Looking ahead, 62 percent are planning to engage in more domestic travel compared with previous years, with the aim of allocating more of their travel budget within their own country.

Palawan Ecolodge in Rizal, Palawan encourages guests to experience local life by exploring the local mangroves, mountain and jungle trekking, and fishing fresh catch for their meals. Hosting proceeds go towards financing local community programs.

“Following the pandemic, travelers are thinking more about the implications of their travel choices and decisions,” said Pratima Singh, senior manager for Policy and Insights at Economist Impact. “As demonstrated by our survey findings, we’re seeing a trend where people are attempting to make their travel decisions more sustainable — economically, culturally and environmentally — and hoping to have a more positive impact by benefiting local communities.”

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Southeast Asia

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Southeast Asia, said: “Just as the travel revolution is inspiring people to embrace flexibility and reimagine the ways they live and travel, so too is it spurring the rise of the conscious traveler.

“In the wake of disconnection and economic hardships brought about by the pandemic, people are becoming increasingly thoughtful and deliberate about how they can use travel to make a positive contribution to the communities they visit. They’re thinking deeply about how they can put their tourist dollars to best use and economically empower towns and rural communities that have been struggling. They’re looking to immerse themselves in these communities and forge meaningful connections while also minimizing any unintended negative impacts.

“Airbnb is committed to partnering with governments and communities to find ways to harness the travel revolution and deliver tangible and lasting benefits for everyone. It’s critically important that both industry and government come together to make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

NOTE: “Rebuilding tourism in Asia-Pacific: A more conscious traveler?” is a report commissioned by Airbnb and produced by Economist Impact. The findings shared in this press release are based on a survey of 4,582 travelers from nine markets: Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The survey was conducted and completed in October 2021.

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