With many COVID-19 restrictions lifted globally, the game has changed for the travel and tourism sector. Read our conversation with Cristina Morales, the Editor of WindowSeat.ph and 8List.ph discussing how the one of the most popular industries in the Philippines, is now getting back up.
How has the pandemic changed the travel and tourism sector?
The travel and tourism sector was obviously one of the most badly hit industries during the pandemic. Many businesses were forced to stop offering their products and services, downsize, and pivot to other ways to generate income. But now that things are going back to normal, it’s evident that lockdowns have only strengthened Filipino travellers' wanderlust. In 2021, the Philippine travel and tourism sector made $41 billion, making it the fourth-fastest growing economy in the world.
From your perspective as a journalist, how did brands and PR agencies, and readers adapt to this change?
Brands recognised that they needed to adapt to survive, and did so by offering new services such as digital nomad packages for remote workers, targeting local (vs international) travellers, and providing more nature or outdoor experiences.
PR agencies shifted to a digital-first strategy, offering virtual events and experiences to maintain the interest in travel without compromising safety.
Readers, on the other hand, became even hungrier for travel content while they were stuck at home. They’re also doing more research to make sure that their trips are safe and affordable. WindowSeat.ph saw an exponential growth of website traffic in 2020, and it’s been steadily increasing since then.
What are the ways your publication has adapted to these changes?
We’ve been catering to our audience by featuring safer alternatives to the usual tourist traps. To do this, WindowSeat.ph has been spotlighting hidden gems — the less travelled destinations that offer private, exclusive experiences. Now that people are more comfortable travelling, we’ve also started publishing guides on the changing travel protocols — both domestic and international.
Because Filipino travellers are now more cautious, they have become more proactive in researching for future trips. In the coming months, WindowSeat.ph will also be launching an online community that will serve as a safe, friendly space that will allow travellers to ask for suggestions, share tips, and inspire one another to keep exploring the world.
How are you seeing the future of travel and tourism now?
Assuming that we won’t see any more lockdowns in our future, I think the travel industry will continue to recover, with domestic travel taking the lead in its comeback. However, it will take a few more years for Filipino travellers' behaviour to revert to their pre-pandemic habits. In the coming years, Filipinos will likely continue to patronize local, accessible, and affordable destinations.
What are you looking for in PR brands who want to pitch stories to you?
We’re looking for businesses in the Philippines or Southeast Asia who are offering unique experiences for the new normal traveller. Apart from that, we’re also interested in learning about relevant offerings from brands in apparel, motoring, food & dining, banking, fashion & beauty, and other travel-tangent industries.
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