News Analysis Tourism

Tourism minus the spin

Chinese tourist in Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand - June 5, 2016: Two young Chinese women tourists are standing in the street in Bangkok, Thailand. A Chinese man is standing behind them. The women are young, beautiful, wearing sunglasses and one is holding a mobile phone. The Chinese tourism market in South East Asia is expanding at a rapid rate.

Yesterday, viewers to Market Edge, a chatty business segment put out by the Philippine’s ABS-CBN network, were told that the country could meet its target for 10% more tourist arrivals this year. Now where have we heard that before?

Normally, off-the-top-of-the-head statements like that come from the Department of Tourism (DOT) itself; and invariably – though they sound good at the time – they fail to materialise. This one, thankfully, they didn’t come from there; they came from – wait for it – the research manager of a commercial real-estate services company.

And not some hole-in-the-wall firm; none other than Canada-based Colliers International, which in the Philippines coincidentally, provides hotel and leisure services. According to its website it offers a “full range of hotel real estate services whether it be leasing, sales, management or advisory services”. Well, a glowing report about a boost in arrivals shouldn’t to their business any harm.

Its spokesman for the show was “property analyst” Joey Bondoc. He said this: “We [the Philippines] rank well in terms of price competitiveness… The Philippines is also endowed with natural resources. This will be our advantage against our neighbors”.

On the first two points he’s right – we’ve read the same report – but it’s hardly a fair summation of the overall picture which shows exactly how little effect those advantages have had in terms of competing with “our neighbours”.

In the following infographics series we will be looking more closely at this report, but for the meantime, here’s a taster:

Out of 136 countries evaluated in the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, the Philippines came in the bottom half. More concerning, however, is that of eight member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that were ranked – Brunei and Myanmar were not included in the survey – it came second from last.

The Asean global scores are as follows: Singapore, 13th; Malaysia, 26th; Thailand, 34th; Indonesia, 42nd; Vietnam, 67th; Philippines, 79th; Laos, 94th; Cambodia, 101st. In other words, it’s been left in the wake of its major Southeast Asian tourism rivals.

That’s the bottom line; the real story. It’s also another reason why we won’t be taking our analysis from any vested interests – and particularly from real-estate agents. According to an Ipsos-Mori survey published early last year, real-estate agents had the lowest trust rating of any profession after politicians.

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  • 10% only? What if 50 million Chinese tourists arrive? Wag taung magmadali bc Digong’s build build build is still underway. We need the infras to accomodate and facilitate tourists and travels with ease and comfort.

  • Well under marcial law many travel agencies will not really promote the Philippines as a tourist destination for fear of being held responsible if a client is harmed. Sorry to say that. As long as President Duterte rules this country Tourist numbers will go down.