New form of ‘conscious travel’ emerges in the Philippines

  • New research and analysis by Economist Impact, commissioned by Airbnb, shows overwhelming majority of Filipinos want to travel in ways that positively benefit local communities both economically and socially
  • Data shows Filipinos polled are looking to travel more domestically, immerse themselves in local communities and learn what’s important to locals so they can contribute 
  • The ‘live anywhere’ travel revolution is heralding new economic and social opportunities for off-the-beaten-path rural destinations

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

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

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’s important that their travel creates a positive impact for locals.

The study also examined attitudes towards 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 when they travel.
  • Over 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 as they are conscious that communities are in need of economic recovery.
  • 76 percent of respondents say they will be more conscious when it comes to familiarising themselves with what’s important to the communities they’re visiting and how they can make a contribution.
  • Over 60 percent are willing to build sustainable tourism practices into their holiday plans. Here are the three practices they are most willing to engage in: forgo comforts and luxuries on a holiday if their actions can support sustainable tourism outcomes; pay a premium for an experience that supports sustainable tourism practices; and avoid destinations faced with sustainability challenges.
  • Almost half say it is important that they’re not contributing 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 travellers become more open to exploring new ways of travelling and living. 

  • Over half of Filipinos polled plan to travel more frequently to rural destinations that are not currently popular with tourists.
  • 60 percent plan to take workcations or work remotely when they can.
  • Looking ahead, 62 percent are planning to engage in more domestic travel than in the past, 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 programmes.

“Following the pandemic, travellers 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, 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 on the rise of the conscious traveller. 

“In the wake of the disconnection and economic hardship brought 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’re visiting. They’re thinking deeply about how they can put their tourist dollars to best use and economically empower towns and rural communities that have struggled. And they’re looking to immerse themselves in these communities and forge meaningful connections, while also minimising any unintended negative impacts.

“Airbnb is committed to partnering with governments and communities to find ways to harness the travel revolution to 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 traveller?” 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 travellers from nine markets: Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The survey was conducted and completed in October 2021.