MANILA – A travel group is looking at easing overcrowding in the Philippines’ top destinations by developing luxury travel and tourism to prevent damages that could pose risks to the quality of tourism as well as the environment.
S8 Exhibition Inc. (SEI) Public Relations Officer Edwin Villanueva said that since capacity enhancement took time, overcrowding could be addressed by developing luxury travel and tourism, a more immediate method.
“We cannot allow overcrowding because there may be irreversible damages to our natural resources. We also have to ensure that there is quality of experience,” Villanueva said in an interview.
Villanueva said that developing luxury tourism in the Philippines does not mean that the tourism sector will be leaving behind mass tourism.
“We have to develop both segments of the tourism industry. We don’t choose to develop luxury tourism at the expense of the mass market,” he said.
He said that the goal was to expand the capacity of a tourism area to absorb and sustain visitors and tourism activities without severely impacting the environment and community surroundings.
“There are a lot of areas that tourism development can spare. We should simply avoid concentrating tourism in one area,” he added.
Why luxury tourists?
Villanueva said that luxury tourism should be targeted since there was an increasing demand from social class A travelers who, in the Philippines, spent as much as Php 10,000 daily compared to regular tourists that spend Php 5,000 daily.
“If we acquire visitors that spend 50 percent more, we can lessen the impact of tourism but increase revenue in our country,” he said.
Data from the DOT showed the top per capita spenders from January to April 2016 included India (Php 62,651) Canada (Php 56,670) and Korea (Php 54,039).
The upcoming SEI-organized Asia Premium Travel Mart (APTM) on June 21 to 23 will see some 100 to 150 buyers that will eventually bring in around 15,000 ultra-wealthy tourists to visit the Philippines this year for bird-watching, diving, shopping and other activities that cater to the high-end market.
SEI is a group of the country’s biggest travel agencies.