Online travel agencies seen as future of Philippine tourism
As the demand for travel increases in the Philippines, online travel agencies like Traveloka and Expedia are fast becoming the go-to booking platform for many savvy tourists. They are easy-to-use and offer competitive pricing especially for budget travelers. Complemented by their mobile apps, these service providers make booking a flight or a hotel possible anytime and anywhere.
Philippine tourism is looking up as the volume of local and foreign travelers grows year over year. According to the Department of Tourism (DoT), 532,757 foreigners flocked to the country in May of 2017 alone. Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that three in five Filipinos aged 15 or older have traveled domestically in 2016.
Both figures are significant improvements over recent years. The May 2017 foreign visitor count is up 19.6% over May of 2016. The PSA domestic travel data, on the other hand, is a 20% increase over 2012’s figures.
An upbeat local economy and globalization are considered major factors for the travel industry’s steady surge. The emergence of new technologies and payment methods are also seen primary drivers in the travel scene.
Given the current pace of internet and credit card penetration growth in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, OTAs are expected to only keep on getting more popular. In a 2016 research released by Google and Temasek, “the SEA internet economy is expected to grow to $200+ billion by 2025.” Online travel including hotels and flights will account for 15% of its growth.
Several factors have been identified as the main reasons why people prefer using OTAs over direct booking channels and traditional travel agencies. These are:
- Convenience – People can book anywhere they have internet access and a device that can go online.
- More Choices – OTAs partner with more airlines and hotels than typical travel agencies.
- Best Prices – With vast options, email alerts and smartphone notifications, users can choose the flight and hotel that’s best for their budget.
- Minimal Risks – With rating and review systems built in, OTAs can help you pick flights and hotels for the best experience.
- Diverse Payment Options – You can pay via credit, debit, bank deposits and sometimes even through PayPal or PayMaya.
- Better Customer Service – OTAs have comprehensive FAQs, guides and customer support systems that you can tap anytime you have concerns.
Consumers aren’t the only ones bullish on OTAs. All indications point to the confidence of investors in the dominant role that OTAs will play in the future of Philippine tourism. Last July, Traveloka announced that it has raised $500 million in funding from Expedia, East Ventures, the Hillhouse Capital Group, JD.com and Sequoia Capital. The investment is allowing the OTA to focus on delivering the best travel experience for Southeast Asia travel market, including the Philippines.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.