The government’s move to reopen international borders for foreign travel earlier has proven to be effective in kickstarting tourism in the Philippines as the country emerged as a top travel destination in Southeast Asia (SEA) in the first quarter of 2022.

“For the first quarter of 2022, international flight bookings to Southeast Asia overall have increased and have shown an upward trajectory with the Philippines taking the lead by achieving 42 percent of its international bookings in the first quarter of 2019 prior Covid-19 pandemic,” UK-based technology firm Travelport said.

According to Travelport, 51 percent of all international flight bookings in SEA went to the Philippines and Thailand – nations that reopened and eased their restrictions for foreign travel early. 

“The Philippines and Thailand were among the earliest countries in Southeast Asia to reopen their borders, and travelers are already clamoring to visit,” the technology firm said. 

Although the country tied with Thailand in that respect, the Philippines took the lead when it came to the top 10 travel destinations in SEA. The city of Manila placed first while Angeles and Mabalacat were ranked 10th.

Here’s Travelport’s complete list: 

  • Manila (Philippines)
  • Singapore (Singapore)
  • Bangkok (Thailand)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
  • Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
  • Hanoi (Vietnam)
  • Phuket (Thailand)
  • Bali (Indonesia)
  • Angeles/Mabalacat (Philippines)

The technology firm noted that flight bookings to the Philippines for this year increased dramatically after the government announced on January 28 that it plans to fully reopen to vaccinated travelers on February 10. 

Just a week after that, bookings to the country increased by 114 percent, Travelport said. More than a month after, on February 28, the country saw a 294-percent increase in daily flight bookings.

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