1. Aircraft Passenger Arrival
An average of ten (10) consistent aircrafts disembarked the city’s international standard airport throughout the 2nd quarter of 2016 compared to the 2nd quarter of 2015 which only have eight (8). Cebu Pacific added an aircraft with flight number CEBUPAC5J990 and started its daily flights in General Santos this year. However, CEBUPAC5J990 stopped daily flights in General Santos City in the month of June. Nonetheless, June 2016 still exhibited an increase of 2,875 of passenger arrivals compared to June 2015. During the 2nd quarter of 2016, passenger arrivals increased to 13,082 or 14% compared to the 2nd quarter of 2015. 2nd quarter exhibited higher passenger arrivals compared to 1st quarter since this is the season for vacations. A total of 38,029 passengers arrived in the month of May making it the highest count of passenger arrivals of the 2nd quarter.
Series of private-owned aircrafts (General Aviation) disembarking the city’s international airport due to election related campaigns affected the aircraft passenger arrivals report with a total of 281 passengers in the 2nd quarter of 2016 (Table 1).
2. Tourist Arrivals
Yet again, tourist arrivals during the 2nd quarter of 2016 exhibited an increase 22,644 or 18%. Total guest nights rose to 18,165 or 10%. The month May has the most number of guests with 50,209 guests and month of June having the highest increase of number of guest with 13,933. The increasing number of accommodation establishment respondents has considerably affected the city records. The city recorded more respondents compared to last year’s 2nd quarter. The number of registered accommodation establishments increased by 78 or 25% on average compared to last year’s 2nd quarter (Table 3).
3. Foreign Visitors Arrival
By specific country, U.S. remained the top contributor of foreign visitor arrivals with 733 visitors or 35.90% of total arrivals. Koreans supplied the second biggest arrival accounted with 17.63% or with 360 arrivals while the Japanese ranked third with a total of 8.72% contributing 178 arrivals. Meanwhile, Chinese provided 6.95% or 189 arrivals and Australians registered 6.41% or 131 arrivals. Other nationalities contributed to foreign visitor arrivals with 24.39% or 498 visitors. Foreign visitor arrivals throughout the 2nd quarter 2016 decreased by 28% compared to last year’s 2nd quarter (Table 3).
4. MICE Report
As of June, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibits & Events (M.I.C.E.) 2016 exhibited 31% decrease rate compared to last year’s 2nd quarter. Though there was a decrease rate in number of events, attendance of domestic and foreign visitors increased by 23,047 visitors or 27%. Moreover, M.I.C.E.’s number of accommodation establishment respondents dropped by 8 respondents or 8% decrease rate (Table 4).
5. Daytime Tourists
Daytime Tourists during the 2nd quarter’s respondents summed with 53 establishments same as last year’s quarter. The increase of respondents being registered contributed to the number of tourists served with a total of 203,137 tourists or 10% increase rate in arrival. Throughout the 2nd quarter, the city’s tourism destinations (nature, adventure and culture) still attracted more tourists compared to last year’s 2nd quarter (Table 5).
6. Inbound Booking
In the 2nd quarter of 2016, travel agents recorded only 3,533 inbound travel bookings compared to 185,406 inbound travel bookings last year. With today’s trend, people may acquire services with just a click of a button. Booking transactions of tourists made in the internet and to other travel agencies outside General Santos may have caused the 98% decreased in inbound travel bookings. During the 2nd quarter, it is also evident that agencies submitting their reports have decreased to 9% resulting to a lower turn-out of inbound bookings being recorded (Table 6).
7. Tour Operators
Tour operation, business and services during 2nd quarter exhibited low number of local and foreign tourist served. Regrettably, total number of respondents decreased by 76%. The percentage of agencies submitting reports decreased from 77% of 1st quarter to 76% during this quarter. This means that more agencies are complying. However, despite the decrease, still total number of local and foreign served are low with only 243 tourists served compared to last year’s 2nd quarter. The severe deflation occurred in the month of May and summer time with local and tourist with only 58 tourist served (Table 7).
8. Total Tourist Arrivals
Tourist arrival during the 2nd quarter in General Santos City encompasses tourist arrivals from accommodation establishments which increased to 18% or 148,522 tourist; 203,137 daytime tourists who visited Gensan’s tourist destinations and tour packages that 243 tourist availed. This quarter exhibit a high total tourist arrival with 351,902 total number of tourist or 13% increase rate compared to 2nd quarter of 2015. This quarter also exhibited a higher tourist arrival compared to 1st quarter.
From 351,902 tourist arrivals multiplied by the Average Daily Expenditure (ADE) of tourist which is two thousand five hundred pesos (Php 2,500.00) for tourist arrival per accommodation; three hundred pesos (PhP 300.00) for daytime tourist and two hundred fifty pesos (PhP 200.00) for tourist who availed tour packages, the tourist arrivals already generated an income of four hundred thirty-two million three hundred six thousand and eight hundred fifty pesos (Php 432,306,850.00) in the 2nd quarter alone. This amount is derived from tourist arrivals per accommodation establishment that have accumulated an income of three hundred seventy-one million three hundred five thousand pesos (Php 371,305,000.00); tour operation and services accumulated sixty thousand and seven hundred fifty pesos (Php 60,750.00) and daytime tourists sixty million nine hundred forty-one thousand and one hundred pesos (Php 60,941,100.00) spent on destinations.
During the 2nd quarter, the tourism industry is earning one hundred forty-four million one hundred two thousand two hundred eighty-three pesos and 33/100 (Php 144,102,283.33) per month. With the above figures, income of this year’s 2nd quarter grew 25.41% compared to the monthly earnings in the 1st quarter.
With the increasing number of tourism related establishments, new jobs are being generated and new destinations foreign and local tourists would like to go to. It can be observed that the contribution of the tourism industry in the local economy is also increasing, sustaining the dynamism of the industry in the city.
Tourism related establishments (TREs) remarkably increase every quarter. The travel and tour agencies, hotel accommodations and tourist destinations increased in number in General Santos City this quarter. However, this did not hinder the drastic decrease on foreign visitors, MICE events, inbound bookings and on tour packages.
On foreign visitors, General Santos experienced a decrease with 28%. With P2,500.00 Average Daily Expenditure of every tourist, expected loss in income from foreign visitors is inevitable. This quarter, convention centers faced a decreased in their bookings for events. However, the 745 events recorded this quarter garnered 108,876 attendees, 27% higher compared to last year’s 3rd quarter. Travel agencies on the other hand underwent massive decrease with 98% decrease rate. A sharp decline is expected for this year for travel agencies. Although non-submission of reports reached a 688% increase, it is still not equitable to say that non-submission of travel agencies is the cause of the decline in bookings. With today’s tourists’ capacity to self-book via internet and since online bookings are cheaper compared to bookings made by travel agencies, economically-wise, they would choose hassle-free and budget-friendly transactions. Home-based travel agencies which are not registered as businesses and self-online bookings may have contributed to the decline of bookings reflected in their reports since passenger arrivals increased this quarter. On tour packages, it undergone a dramatic fall in sales that has made travel and tour operators lose bookings this year. The industry is losing bookings as families and tourists switch to putting together their own tours with budget airlines and their own hotel bookings. This is the outcome of easy access to the internet by individual travellers.
SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Creation of new employment opportunities and wealth distribution from various economic activities is the result of the multiplier effect of tourism development in the city. However, as seen on the data above, General Santos is experiencing decline in foreign visitors, events, inbound bookings and tour packages. The government should play a more pro-active role in tourism enhancement. The CEMCDO/Investment Division should target at least a landed investment per year. Attracting investment should be their main concern. Activities like investment promotion collaterals, investment missions and B2B selling.
As tourism related establishment (TRE) being registered increases, implementation of Ordinance 20, Series of 2014 and its compliance by TREs should be focused. As seen on Tables 6 and 7, the gap between the total number of registered establishment and total number of respondents is widening. Tour operators and ticketing agencies in General Santos City should be enforced to submit their monthly reports. Most of the of the travel and tours operators are registered to submit inbound booking summary report and tour operator’s summary report. However, most of them provide only ticketing services which may have resulted to a lower turnout of accounts being encoded. TREs should comply with the ordinance or submit correct monthly report in order for the tourism division to provide quality tourism data for the constituents of the city.
In order to increase tourist inflow in the city, some initiatives would be to increase the frequency of international and domestic flights, solving infrastructural problems – particularly road infrastructure, ensuring high quality of service amongst all stakeholders and safety and security. Security and safety are always a major cause of concern for foreign tourists who visit the city and the city should take steps in order to prevent harassment to the tourists especially by beggars in the city.
In MICE, industry experts should market General Santos City’s MICE capabilities overseas and promote the city as MICE hub of Region 12. Moreover, promotions of specific products like fairs & festivals and preparation of a comprehensive package linking leading hotels, tour operators and low-cost airlines.
Travel and tour agencies can focus on specific specialized services, such as travel consultation and travel agents can survive if they focus on specific segments of the market. Destinations and travel agencies should be working hand in hand, because destinations are defined by their product offers, and the travel agencies’ gateway to customers is through product specialization as well.
Over all, promotional strategy and campaign based on the image of the city as a culturally unique destination which at the same time has infrastructural facilities of global standards can be focused on by positioning General Santos City in the tourism market as a multicultural one-stop destination in the Region 12. The major promotional modes are campaigns in the electronic and print media through trade shows and promotions.