What is it about?
Due to COVID-19, the country’s tourism has been shut down for nearly two years, which has caused a significant loss of tourism receipts. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, it would take up to 10 months for the industry to recover. However, in the Philippines, the road to recovery took longer than expected.
Fitch forecasts that tourism arrivals will not go back to the pre-pandemic level even after five years. Concerned about the big contribution of tourism in the country, COMS360 was inspired to launch “BalikBayan: Bumalik sa Bayan, Ibalik sa Bayan,” an online campaign to help local tourism bounce back from the pandemic.
Travelers in the country were urged to use organic promotion by sharing their trip experiences and travel tips to increase local tourism. As a result, the campaign was able to reach 134,923 people and generate 3,006 engagements throughout the campaign implementation.
What is the purpose?
During the start of 2022, based on data from the World Tourism Organization (2022), Asia Pacific countries, including the Philippines, have the lowest percentage of recovered international tourist arrivals during the pandemic with 14% compared to the Middle East, Europe, America, Africa, and other parts of the world.
A Bangko Central ng Pilipinas study titled “The Philippine Tourism Sector and the Pandemic: Developments and Prospects” claims that the country’s tourism industry experienced the pandemic’s negative effects much earlier in 2020 as countries began to impose travel restrictions and measures as early as January 2020. The number of foreign visitors to the country and the revenue generated by tourism both decreased by roughly 80% and 90%, respectively, between 2020 and 2021. This depressing development was reflected in the 89 percent year-over-year decline in tourist arrivals in 2021, when only 163,879 foreign visitors were recorded, down from 1.5 million visitors in 2020.
In a health crisis like COVID-19, there are expected changes in travel behavior and movement of people as observed by experts. According to Schroeder et al. (2013), this is primarily because people have an internal drive to protect themselves from infection, which serves as an external barrier to the spread of the disease to others. Due to government-imposed travel limitations, people’s intentions to travel also have a big impact on the travel needs needed by a particular region, which discourages people from traveling.
Filipinos concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be hesitant to travel. In the 2021 Philippine Travel Trends, a survey commissioned by Airbnb pointed out that most “Filipinos are veering away from mass travel toward less crowded, more mindful, and slower travel.” Even despite the lifting of the prohibition on nonessential international and domestic travel, the majority of the 1,500 respondents to PhilCare’s 2021 survey of the Filipino workforce “strongly agree” that the mere possibility of contracting the virus still causes them “stress.”
Thus, it has become imperative to help boost tourism in the country. To address the need for increased tourism in the Philippines, COMS360 launched the “BALIKBAYAN: Bumalik Sa Bayan, Ibalik Sa Bayan” campaign to boost domestic travel. This program is not only intended to boost tourism to local travel destinations but also to boost local business by asking the tourist to share who and what travel services have they used or benefited from (e.g. travel agency, van rental, even tricycle drivers) that would encourage them to travel again.