The Solo Filipina Traveller: From the Insights of Travel Bloggers
Lacson, Francesca Nicole
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Female travellers play a dominant role in the tourism industry. In recent years, this market has held a strong presence in solo travel, where they represent two thirds of its market. The tourism industry is experiencing an ‘Asian Wave’, particularly in women’s travel, due to the rapid expansion of many Asian economies. Despite this, many tourism studies are still plagued by gendered and Western bias. Chang (2015) suggested that in order to bring about more critical research to Asian tourism, academics need to be more culture-specific in their research in terms of how culture influences traditional gender structures. Current Asian tourism research mainly focuses on eastern Asians, who have a greater capacity for travel than those from western and Souteast Asia. However, the growing tourist market in developing Asian countries has made it vital to emphasise an understanding of specific aspects of these female travellers, since Asia has heterogenous characteristics due to its different religious and cultural ties. The Philippine market has unique characteristics that make it distinct from other Southeast Asian countries. It neither has a strong middle-class market like Singapore, nor is it predominantly influenced by Islamic or Confucianist culture. Yet, little research has been done on its domestic market, specifically on female travellers. This research aims to understand female Filipina travellers’ motivation and how their solo journeys help in constructing their cultural and personal identities. Using a qualitative method, the research investigates the solo journeys of nine Filipina semi-professional travel bloggers. The data were collected from articles posted on their travel blogs, which are known for providing researchers with key insights into tourist experiences because of their unbiased and unprompted nature. Thematic analysis was used in finding their motivations, constraints and benefits and how they link to the construction of the Filipina’s identity. The findings identified similarities between Filipina travellers and other Asian female travellers in their motivations to travel solo. Many bloggers used travel to escape their current lifestyle and for personal growth. Similar constraints can be found in the socio-cultural expectations enforced by family and peers to dissuade these Filipinas from pursuing a life that does not conform to their collectivist mindset. These women faced gendered discrimination, more commonly when they travel domestically, due to locals being franker to their fellow Filipinos. Another major constraint is the limitation all Filipinas faced due to their limited travel accessibility. It was by navigating through these constraints and continuing with their journeys that these Filipina solo travellers experienced benefits such as personal growth, expansion of networks, and finding their form of personal success. These benefits not only aided in reconstructing each traveller’s own individual identity, but also reaffirmed their identity as a Filipino, albeit one that is different from the socially expected norms.