PHL among top destinations for end-of-Ramadan travelers

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THE Philippines is one of the markets benefitting from Muslims traveling at the end of Ramadan.

Data provided by ForwardKeys showed the tradition of traveling at the end of Ramadan made a significant revival this year. Citing data as of April 13, outbound flight bookings from the Middle East for travel covering the last 10 days of the festival, from April 22 to May 2, “reached 64 percent or pre-pandemic levels,” which is equivalent to a 220 percent jump in travel in the same period last year.

Flight bookings to the Philippines by Middle Eastern holidaymakers increased by 155 percent from the same reference period last year, although this was still 21 percent behind the same period in 2019.

The increase in flight bookings this year put the Philippines at number six among the top 8 destinations for Middle Eastern travelers at the end of Ramadan, tying with Turkey. They come after other “stand-out” destinations such as Maldives, with flight bookings up 178 percent from 2019; followed by France, up 2 percent; Pakistan, down 2 percent from 2019; Bangladesh and the United Kingdom, down 3 percent; and the United Arab Emirates, down 12 percent.

Thailand and Spain rounded up the rest of the top destinations at 24 percent and 26 percent below their 2019 levels.

In a news statement, Olivier Ponti, ForwardKeys Vice President Insights, ForwardKeys said, “As Covid-19 travel restrictions are being removed, the world is starting to travel again; and that trend is well demonstrated by the return to traditional travel at the end of Ramadan.”

He added: “Throughout the pandemic, the Maldives has done exceptionally well at attracting visitors and the reputation it has created for itself is evidently paying off, most notably in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which together account for 83 percent of arrivals from the Middle East.”

Recovering outbound markets

According to ForwardKeys, Bahrain’s outbound market is set to recover most strongly during the end-of-Ramadan travel, as booked departures significantly increased by 90 percent from 2019 levels. It was followed by Jordan, at 86 percent; the UAE, 84 percent; Qatar, 75 percent; and Kuwait 68 percent.

“Deeper analysis of the outbound markets reveals that a major feature is expat workers traveling home. For example, the top destinations from the UAE are Pakistan and India and from Bahrain are the UAE, India and Bangladesh,” said Ponti.

During the 21st World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Manila, ForwardKeys data showed the Philippines leading the inbound travel recovery in Southeast Asia, with flight bookings up 29 percent in April. (See, “Hot summer fun in PHL as flight bookings rise,” in the BusinessMirror, April 27, 2022.)

A knowledge partner of the WTTC, ForwardKeys issues reports on aviation movements based on ticketing data covering the globe from online bookings to travel agencies and airlines.

The Philippines has been trying to get a piece of the pie of the halal tourism market offering Middle Eastern travelers sun and beach activities as well as world-class shopping opportunities.

Its regular participation in the annual Arab Travel Market showed keen interest by Middle Eastern travelers in Boracay, El Nido, and Baguio. However, the country’s lack of Arabic-speaking tour guides may prove to be a hindrance in attracting more inbound tourists from so-called Gulf Coast Countries.