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July 16, 2024

The Philippines: What is the competitive landscape in the post-recovery? 


Photo courtesy of DOT

There was a time when the Philippines was the darling of tourism in the region. The rest of the region started their own campaigns patterned after ours and now, we are playing catch-up.

Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam are all in front of tourist arrivals in Southeast Asia, we are in 6th with Cambodia breathing down our necks, with almost the same number of arrivals at 6.61 M while we had 8.26M in 2018.

Back to zero

But then, The Covid19 pandemic happened and wrecked havoc to global tourism with countries locking down their borders to tourism for almost 2 years.

In 2021, visitor statistics were down to only six figures:

ASEAN gears up

Slowly opening borders to tourism at the end of 2021, figures for the first half of 2022 shows promise:

The rankings have changed mainly because of Covid restrictions, with each country having its own entry regulations. It all starts from zero now, and the country that is ready and forward thinking will earn the most arrivals.

Vietnam is the new tourism benchmark

In front of the standings are perennial leaders Malaysia Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.The Philippines is also making its presence felt. Noticeably, Vietnam is on second, with almost the same number of arrivals as Thailand. Both Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and China are members of Mekong Tourism, an alliance that symbolizes the Mekong river that passes through these countries. Established in 2008, Mekong tourism aggressively promotes intra-travel and has been successful in increasing their tourist arrivals.

On the other hand the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Corridor) trade alliance is an on-again, off-again collaboration beset by air connectivity issues.

Vietnam is also bent on cornering the China market with its products aimed to please the Chinese market. Development of huge integrated resorts continue.and staff training in hospitality and speaking English is ongoing. Its latest attraction is an F1 racetrack in Da Nang that  enters them to the elite F1 worldwide circuit, just the third ASEAN country to have one after Malaysia and Singapore. The opening has been postponed due to Covid but slated to hold its first race in 2023.

In pre-pandemic 2019, Vietnam had 18M tourist arrivals, a growth of 16.2% with Asians composing 79%.

With International tourism back to to 60%of pre-pandemic levels in January-July period and Vietnam on a share of first and second, expect Vietnam to continue its tourism surge in 2023.

Can the Philippines stay on track at 4th place?


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