Updated on August 27, 2016 — Have you ever wondered how many Filipinos go out of the country just to travel for leisure or business?
Outbound tourism — travel made by locals to international destinations — has largely been an unknown area versus inbound tourism, which the Department of Tourism tracks. Judging from my Facebook news feed, it seems everyone has been traveling abroad: to Japan during Sakura season, and just recently I’m seeing more Australian content.
Curious, Workalife set out an extensive survey across major destination countries to find out visitor* arrivals from the Philippines. After compiling visitor data from 42 foreign government agencies, here’s what we found out:
Filipinos made 5.1 million departures outside the country in at least 42 destinations last year. These departures are leisure in nature, and the figure will obviously be bigger if departures for working purposes were considered.
Leading the Top 11 destinations are Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, China**, and UAE.
Thailand, Japan, U.S., Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia follow afterwards. Meanwhile, Russia and Vietnam rank just immediately outside the Top 11.
Most of the Top 11 are very accessible to Filipinos; in fact, eight destinations are within a five-hour flying time radius from Manila.
How fast is Filipino travel overseas growing?
In 2015, outbound trips from the Philippines grew by 5.9%. That’s higher than global average of 4.4% and slightly than that of Asia Pacific at 5%.
Of the most popular destinations, UAE and Japan have immense potential to climb up through the ranks in the forthcoming years because of their strong growth. Arrivals increased in UAE (Dubai) by 51% and Japan by 45.70%.
Travel agencies and entrepreneurs who want to bank on the booming business should focus, too, on Maldives and Switzerland. While both countries received fewer Filipinos than the Top 10, they posted 27.8% and 25.5% growth, respectively, making their way into the five international destinations with the highest percentage growth after Vietnam, UAE, and Japan. These are followed by countries like Palau, Argentina, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand where arrivals are increasing by double-digit figures.
We were not surprised with the inclusion of certain countries in the Top 10 rankings. For instance, Hong Kong and Singapore — two highly accessible destinations — are some of the most dynamic cities in Asia, continuously adding more tourism attractions. Their local promotions office are also some of the most active in the Philippines. We’ve also expected Japan, South Korea, and Australia to top the list. They compose part of Filipino millennials’ Top 10 wish list for 2016, according to our survey in early 2016.
*Visitors who made trips for leisure, business, and other purposes other than employment as per UNWTO definition.
**This article is being continuously updated as findings come in. An early version of this article failed to capture the large Filipino leisure market to China, which we now estimate to be 300,000+ in 2015 (while overall Filipino departures to China along with those for working purposes numbered to 1 million). For viewers of the early version, you may notice that China, which wasn’t in the Top 10 before, is now ranked fifth. Data from Saudi Arabia has also been recently added, while Vietnam’s figures and standing have been corrected.