Why are Foreign Tourists Hesitant to Visit the Philippines?

By Eric - 1:27 PM

As a newbie Filipino backpacker, I always try to promote Philippines to any backpackers that I met on my travels even in a gathering of group travellers. Honestly, everytime I introduce myself or being asked where I'm from, I answered it with so much pride and friendly manner to encourage one of a picture of Philippines in me how nice we are.
I've met several tourists in Thailand and Malaysia and none of them had given me a positive signs of making Philippines as their future target of destinations to visit, yet, a negative comments and a silly grin. In my opinion, I knew why we can't encourage tourists to come & enjoy the beauty of our country its because of the travel advisories against Philippines that they heard and saw in TV issues about terrorism, kidnapping, killing, pickpockets, swindlers etc. That really broke my heart because it's true, and it turned out to be so embarrassing in my part and losing my spirit to continue my story of promoting my country.
Reading travel blogs from experienced and professional backpackers I've known, keeps me motivated to dream of traveling no matter what, and one of those travellers that I admire is Plif Damon of Flipnomad.
Browsing his blog and reading his articles every now and then gives me a lot of ideas about the recommended places to go, budget travels and the do's and don'ts on travelling. One of his writings caught my attention that also brought so much answers to my questions, Why are Foreign Tourists Hesitant to Visit the Philippines? I didn't ask his permission at all to repost his blog post, but here are the answers that he gathered from fellow travellers.

Juno of RunawayJuno.com

“I don’t think Philippines is well known as ‘backpacking’ destination to Koreans. Well, to be fair, there’s not so much ‘backpackers’ in Korea. I’m really a unique case. (or weird? ) Philippines is well known as ‘beach’ and ‘honeymoon’ place, especially Cebu. I think Philippines has a lot to offer other than just the perfect beach, like culture, or people but it’s just Koreans way of travel. because in Koreans mind, travel equals luxury. So they are finding luxury beaches. Well, it’s a long story to talk about. But it’s popular destination. It’s close, it’s cheaper than other places and it’s beautiful!

Nina of JustWandering.org
“People fear what they do not know. Not a lot of news about the Philippines are good — they’re mostly about a bombing or foreigners getting kidnapped and killed. The tourists I met in the Philippines have the same thing to say about the country: that it’s beautiful and they’d like to return. The travelers I met outside the Philippines, however, don’t know much about our country. That’s one of the reasons why people don’t consider coming here as much: they don’t know what they can expect here and if it’s safe to travel here. Another reason is our location in Asia. Even with budget airlines, going to the Philippines is not as easy as it is to travel from Singapore to Laos, which can be done overland or at least much cheaper by air.

Dave and Deb of ThePlanetD.com
“Having not been to the Philippines ourselves I can’t say that we are experts. But I think that people are hesitant to travel to the Philippines because of the crime rate. There is a perception that the Philippines is a dangerous place. Something like the “Wild West” complete with pirates and bandits. It has a dangerous reputation. There isn’t a lot of literature out there to promote its beauty and not enough people are writing about it to encourage visitors. The tourism board should do more to change people’s perception by inviting journalists and bloggers to show the positive side. We look forward to visiting soon.”

Mark of Migrationology.com
“I think many travelers are just not familiar with the amazing sights and things to see in the Philippines. Part of the reason is because the entire country is made of up of islands, that happen to be inaccessible by land forms of transportation. Once a traveler gets to the mainland of SE Asia, it’s easy to get around and visit many places by land. To travel to the Philippines takes an extra flight which can translate to a little more effort (and money). However, traveling to the Philippines is worth above and beyond all the effort it takes to get there!”

Dave of TheLongestWayHome.com
“Initial hesitation on the part of international tourists is first, and for most part, brought on by the prospect of multiple flights. The Philippines by nature is broken into many regions only accessible by flight. So it needs to tackle this element logically.
In relation to this, the first city many people will encounter is Manila. Which is not exactly inspiring, fun, nor enjoyable. The airports are badly linked, confusing, and the international one when flying out is easily the worst I’ve ever encountered.
Internal infrastructure for tourists is very weak compared to neighboring countries. Simply trying to find out how to get from point A to point B is a challenge.
Bad press. Simply put, the antics of your politicians makes people laugh. Used, correctly, it might even become a tourist attraction. But for now, people shake their heads in disbelief. Examples last year alone would be the farce that was the tourism boards new plagerized website and tourism campaign (I won’t even mention the pornographic dibacle attached to it). To the utter tragedy of the tourist bus massacre in Manila, and how it was handle afterwards.
The Philippines has all the potential in the world to become a premier tourist country for all of South East Asia, but it keeps shooting itself in the foot before it can even get to the planning table.
It will continue on this way until someone final takes the Pinoy ego out of the equation, and actually see the reality on the ground. Focus on the end goal of a tourism campaign. Draw up a blue print for this. Relate it to other similar countries based on real tourism not just a junket. Involve national regional tourist sectors. Control the campaign nationally, and not regionally. Make someone fully accountable for the campaign with full transparency.
Could this happen in The Philippines? Maybe the real answer is, if this did happen great things would happen”

Anil of FoxNomad.com
“Personally, I think it’s due to a lack of organized and sustained travel marketing by the Philippine government. A single message to put the Philippines into people’s subconscious, so that when they’re planning a vacation somewhere, the country comes to mind would go a long way. Beautiful beaches, diverse islands, wonderful people, and a great deal in southeast Asia, getting people to come won’t be difficult once they hear about it.”

Claire Raborar of LakwatseradePrimera.com
“Yet compared with the hordes that visit other popular destinations within South East Asia, the Philippines remain largely undiscovered. It’s just not on the “tourist radar”. Why is that?
Partly it’s geography. Lying well off the coast of mainland Asia, the Philippines is not en-route to or from any other destination. It’s hard to tempt travellers off the beaten “backpacker trail” through Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos when to do so would mean incurring the expense and logistics of arranging additional flights – easier to just jump on the next bus to Krabi.
But that doesn’t explain it fully. Intrepid travellers will always find a way to get to a new, unexplored destination – but you have to know about it first. If you know nothing about a place, why would you go there? Tourism in the Philippines suffers because people simply aren’t aware of the wonderful things it has to offer.
Other SE Asian countries have had great success running extensive global tourism marketing campaigns, raising awareness and creating a “brand” for themselves. This is something that the Philippines lacks. You would be hard pressed to find a backpacker or travel agent in a western country that knows anything about tours or places to see in the Philippines. Thailand or Vietnam? Absolutely. Philippines? Ummm…”

(Don't forget to check Flip on his travel blog at FlipNomad.com)

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