The Philippines is experiencing the biggest growth in demand among SEA travelers: Expedia

The Philippines is experiencing some of the largest volumes of increased demand from Southeast Asian travelers this summer, according to online travel platform Expedia.

Filipinos take pictures during sunset in Manila, the Philippines on April 26, 2017.
Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images
Filipinos take pictures during sunset in Manila, the Philippines on April 26, 2017.

Travel bookings to Cebu, famed for its white sandy beaches, for the June to August period this year increased by more than double compared to one year ago. Meanwhile, demand for travel to Manila and Kalibo rose by close to double on year, exclusive data from Expedia showed.

Reasons for the growth in travel demand to the Philippines are twofold, Expedia Asia CEO Jonty Neal told CNBC.

From a supply perspective, travel destinations like Cebu have become more accessible for travelers in the region due to the increase in capacity of direct flights from low cost carriers, Neal said, citing budget airlines such as Cebu Pacific.

On the demand side of the equation, the travel preferences of millennials are taking hold.

"Millennials look for value and have a sense of adventure. They're stepping away from (the usual tourist hot-spots like) cities and beaches and going more regional," Neal said.

Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary, Cebu, the Philippines.
Bruno Barbier | Getty Images
Nalusuan Marine Sanctuary, Cebu, the Philippines.

Cheaper costs of travel have also contributed to the rise in travel demand to the Philippines. Airfares to Cebu have fallen by 50 percent while it now costs 30 percent cheaper to travel to Manila on year, data from Expedia showed.

This was due in part to the rise in low cost carriers and the weaker Philippine peso. The peso is 7 percent weaker against the dollar compared to a year ago. It hit a decade-year low earlier this year.

The growth in the popularity of the Philippines as a travel destination takes place against rising concerns over militant groups in the country. Members of the Abu Sayaff group clashed with police in Bohol, a popular resort island, last month. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte later declared martial law on Mindanao on May 24, 2017, in response to outbreaks of violence in the city of Marawi.

Still, the developments did not make a dent in Expedia's data, which tracked bookings made during the first quarter of 2017 for the June to August holiday period.

Neal also said he was was confident about the future of online travel for the region as a whole.

"There is stronger growth for online travel in Southeast Asia. There are a lot of options right on the doorstep (of Southeast Asian travelers)."

That growth fits into the wider of trend of the boom in online travel in the region — Asia is set to overtake the U.S. in digital travel sales this year.

Data from Expedia also reflected that the ten most popular destinations in Asia among Southeast Asian travelers remained crowd favorites, such as Hong Kong and Tokyo:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo (Japan)
  3. Bangkok (Thailand)
  4. Denpasar (Indonesia)
  5. Singapore
  6. Taipei (Taiwan)
  7. Phuket (Thailand)
  8. Seoul (South Korea)
  9. Manila (The Philippines)
  10. Koh Samui (Thailand)