Tourism is sitting at the 4th spot among the biggest exports in the country. The main contributors to the country’s domestic tourism expenditure growth are Accommodation Services for Visitors, Miscellaneous, and Country-specific Tourism Characteristic Services.
According to the United World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, the Philippines can restart and recover, as the growth in international visitor arrivals and domestic travel movements can generate an increase in foreign investment opportunities.
With worldwide recognition, the country’s tourism industry has enormous potential. The Philippines is among the top wellness tourism hotspots in Southeast Asia, along with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
The country is recognized as among the world’s top agri-tourism destinations following the sector’s push for more revenue streams for farmers in 2019.
According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippines is the third-largest English-speaking country in Asia with about 94 percent of Filipinos who can speak the said language, showing the country’s competitive edge compared to its neighbors.
Further, various accommodation enterprises are investing and continuously expanding in the Philippines such as Mercure Hotel (Europe), Madison, Marriott and Hilton (American brands) to name a few.
Average Growth Rate from 2000-2020 for Tourism's total contribution to the Philippine Economy
Average Growth Rate from 2000-2020 for Inbound Tourism Expenditure
Average Growth Rate from 2000-2020 for Domestic Tourism Expenditure
Average Growth Rate from 2000-2020 for Outbound Tourism Expenditure
WORKFORCE AND WARM HOSPITALITY
Tourism is one of the most labor-intensive industries last year, as 12 out of 100 employed Filipinos were in tourism-related sectors.Thus, tourism industry continues to be a major driver of employment in the country.
Ostensibly, warm hospitality is associated with the Filipino culture, attracting newcomers to visit the country. Based on the Department of Tourism (DOT) Visitor Sample Survey in 2019, warm hospitality is the top thing visitors liked most about the Philippines.
The current incentives regime is based on the RA 11534 or Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act of 2021. Incentives are available to foreign investors, as under the CREATE Act, the nationality and export bias are removed.
In particular, the requirement for a Foreign-owned Business Enterprise to be either a pioneer project or export 70% of its total production is no longer required. Qualification is subject to the qualifications set forth in the SIPP and performance review by the FIRB.
Under the CREATE Act, the tourism industry offers attractive menu of incentives including:
a. Income Tax Holiday (ITH) for 4 to 7 years
b. 5% Special Corporate Income Tax (SCIT) based on gross income earned, in lieu of all national and local taxes
1.Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism (MTWT)
The Philippines is among the top wellness tourism hotspots in Southeast Asia, along with Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. Five major hospitals from these hotspots have achieved the ‘Gold Seal of Approval’ as Joint Commission International (JCI)-accredited entities.
Wellness tourism is expected to be in a good positions during the post-pandemic period as tourists shift to focus on health and wellness. According to the Asian Development Outlook 2020 update, “Wellness is a big part of the global and regional economy, highlighting its potential role in post-COVID-19 recovery efforts”.
The wellness industry has become even more relevant in the post-COVID world. Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism is niche tourism and only requires a little to generate revenue given most visitors, particularly foreigners, are ready to shell out large amounts of money to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Among the priority, treatments include executive checkup, ophthalmology, aesthetics and dental services, cardiology and minimally invasive surgery.
Moreover, accommodation enterprises also offer various wellness facilities such as spas and gym (e.g. in house or third party supplier). According to the 2020 Arrivals/Departure Cards, 1.08% of visitors’ main purpose of travel is health and medical.
In the Philippines, farm tourism accounts for 20%-30% of the overall tourism market. Hence, the country was recognized as among the world’s top agri-tourism destinations following in the sector’s push for more revenue streams for farmers in 2019. During the Global Farm Tourism Summit hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study & Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the Philippines was highlighted as highly sustainable in terms of agri-tourism destination due to its natural resources and biodiversity, its rich farming heritage and the Filipinos’ innate hospitality and openness to foreign tourists. Organic farms, nature-friendly farms and health and wellness farms were among the top tourism farm destinations in the country.
Education tourism continues to be a niche product as the country’s appeal in this area is limited to one or two markets only.
DOT underscored the competitive edge of the country as the third-largest English-speaking country in Asia with about 94 percent of its population speak and understand English. In 2018, the number of international students. who had applied for special study permits, has reached 59,428 in 2018 or nearly double the 22,561 in 2013. DOT also bared that there is an influx of international students who are also in Cebu to finish their tertiary education. The students come from India, Nigeria, Thailand, the US, Korea, New Guinea, and Kenya.
Further, the Philippines can be a leading destination for English as a Second Language (EDL), as developing ESL is a key educational tourism product. In learning English, the market expansion efforts have attracted foreign students – most of them from Asia, the Middle East, and non-English speaking countries of Europe.