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It's More Fun in the Philippines: Boosting Philippine Tourism Through Soccer

Updated on October 13, 2017
Most Beautiful Game: Futbol
Most Beautiful Game: Futbol | Source

A significant number of Filipinos plays soccer, but the sport doesn't have a large profile in the country. There are provincial hotbeds for the sport but its national profile hasn't been as huge as basketball. That is until the Philippine Azkals (moniker of the Philippine National Football Team for Men) burst into the scene in December 2010. The Azkals, Filipino slang for mutts or street dogs, first shot to fame when they reached the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki World Cup, where they defeated defending champion Vietnam and drew with Singapore , another soccer powerhouse in the region. This victory made soccer interesting to Filipinos again.

Soon enough, the Azkals were trending on Twitter and other social networking sites, especially as they proceeded to play in other international soccer matches in 2011, achieving such historical milestones as reaching the second round of World Cup qualifying and qualifying for the AFC Challenge Cup in March this year.

Charity Game for Sendong Victims - Azkals vs Inter de Madrid
Charity Game for Sendong Victims - Azkals vs Inter de Madrid | Source

Soccer Fever and Its Effects on Local and International Tourism

With the rising popularity, marketability and profile of Philippine soccer, hundreds of Azkals fans are more than willing to travel around the country just so they can watch their favourite soccer players play and support our national team. This new phenomenon could drive local tourism up, especially during the soccer season if the Azkals get to fly from one stadium to the next for games and practice matches.

In their first leg match against Mongolia (AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers) at the Panaad stadium in Bacolod, people from Metro Manila and nearby provinces flocked to Bacolod to watch that match. While 10,000 tickets were given free, the local economy got a boost from all those out of town Azkals supporters arriving. When supporters go to a match, they don’t just watch the game, they purchase plane, ferry and bus tickets. They buy food and a number stay in hotels, inns or hostels. In other words, they’ll spend some amount of money which benefits the locals.

Host a match in Rizal and the same will happen, people from Laguna, Pampanga, Cavite , Batangas, Bulacan, etc. will drop by for the day while those from further away are likely to spend a day or two when they come in for a match.

It also helps increase tourism on an international level and the corresponding benefits this also contributes to the economy. However, it is not only the Filipinos who will want to see the match, especially if it is an international fixture. As the Azkals improve and begin to face much stronger opponents with large and dedicated fan bases, the day will come when supporters of the Azkals opponents who love to follow their teams around are going to come flocking to our country if we host a match against their team here.

With budget airfares to destinations such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc. Expect to have fans from these countries coming in to support their teams if ever we start hosting matches against them.

As you can see, the growth of football in our country and the popularity of the Azkals and the momentum this has created for the progress of the beautiful game is a good complement for our tourism industry, both domestic and international. In addition, when our Azkals play overseas they also play a key role in promoting awareness about the Philippines and Filipinos.
However, just as it is in our tourism industry, in order to make the growth of Philippine soccer an effective partner in our efforts to boost tourism, investment in infrastructure is necessary. This is a win-win situation as infrastructure such as stadiums are needed for the sport’s progress and at the same time, it addresses the need to accommodate larger numbers of people who wish to watch the match.

2012 Moira G Gallaga©

Friendly Game - Azkals vs LA Galaxy
Friendly Game - Azkals vs LA Galaxy | Source

© 2012 Moira Garcia Gallaga


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    • profile image

      Marc Hanson 

      7 years ago

      as a foreigner myself, i have come to experience the buzz around football here in the Philippines. football could be a handy tool for pinoys to help rectify some of the wrongs that are happening in and around this proud nation.

      obviously basketball is the number one sport here but i think that will change when the people see how you can play football anywhere. all you need is a light object resembling a ball and a few stones to represent the goals.

      football has always attracted particular attention from the poorer people of this world. the best players the world has seen come from poor areas (Pele, George Best etc etc) and im sure this will transmit to the Philippines. one concern i do have is that football will become an elitist sport here and the poorer members of society will be forgotten about.

    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for your comment Donnacha. We here in the Philippines have still got a long, long way to go before we reach levels comparable to the Premiere League, however, the profile of the sport is slowly increasing and some momentum has been generated which is a good sign. As for overhyped and self-obsessed Premiere League footballers and their managers, makes for interesting reading on our end here from time to time, especially a certain Mr. Mario Balotelli, haha.

    • moiragallaga profile imageAUTHOR

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 

      7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Your comment is music to my ears alocsin. Basketball is still tops here, but people are slowly coming around.

    • Donnacha C profile image

      Donnacha C 

      7 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

      very informative and interesting article! very refreshing after all the rubbish that is written on a daily basis in the media about very overhyped and self-obssessed Premier League footballers and their managers

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think using soccer as a tourism booster is excellent, if only because the Philippines has a better chance at winning an international tourney, than the more popular sport of basketball. Voting this Up and Interesting.


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