Manila is Dead Last for “Bleisure” in Asia According to Corporate Travelers

A study by The Economist says the city's crappy Internet, transportation system, and dangerous streets are to blame.
IMAGE Pixabay

While the mantra “all work and no play” is slowly fading away as corporate travel becomes more modern and popular across the Asia-Pacific, it looks like Manila still has a long way to go to secure a foothold in the global business travel market.

UK-based publication The Economist has released a report titled “The 2019 Bleisure Barometer: Asia’s Best Cities for Work and Recreation,” which measured the opinions of global corporate travelers about the "bleisure" environment in key Asian cities.

Simply put, “bleisure” is a portmanteau of “business” and “leisure” that describes the fusion of work and recreation especially during international trips.

“With the growing notion that finding space for fun can be beneficial to one’s working life, the bleisure phenomenon is quickly gaining steam. As cities in Asia jostle for a slice of the growing global business travel market, they may benefit from facilitating greater overlap in the business and leisure ends of the travel spectrum,” the report said.

But the country's dismal Internet connection, inefficient transportation system, and unsafe streets discourage corporate travelers from visiting the Philippines.

Out of 26 cities in Asia included in the report, Manila placed dead last in the overall rankings. The country's capital also ranked the lowest compared to the other cities in the level of digital connectivity, quality of international and regional links, and safety of the streets.

The cities were evaluated based on different indicators, such as the quality of infrastructure, availability of consumer goods and services, ease of transportation, safety and orderliness of streets/urban areas, and quality of business facilities.


Under the leisure section, the cities were rated based on their dining scene, historical and heritage sites, and art museums and galleries.

Top cities for bleisure

If you’re looking to inject some leisure fun in your otherwise mundane business trips, Tokyo is the place to be. Japan’s capital scored the highest in both the business and leisure segments of the report.

Joining Tokyo for the cities that received five stars are Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Melbourne. Two cities in China, Shanghai and Beijing, each received four stars.

Meanwhile, at the lower end of the spectrum are Bangkok, Adelaide, Shenzen, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Colombo, Hanoi, and Manila. These cities received just one star. (see table for complete rankings).

IMAGE: The Economist

"Cities in Asia-Pacific should take note: facilitating leisure experiences for corporate travellers can be the key to differentiating in a crowded business travel market,” said Naka Kondo, editor of the report. “Some of the top cities in our bleisure barometer are already world leaders in this regard, while others can learn from the best in improving access to the intersection of business and leisure travel in the region.”

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The UK-based publication surveyed 1,500 people employed full-time in corporate jobs and asked them about their experiences while traveling for business.

Sixty percent of the respondents are male, and all of them have traveled for business to or within Asia-Pacific at least once within the past three years and incorporated leisure activities into their trip.

They were sourced from every continent and represent companies of various sizes and a range of seniority and age levels, The Economist said. All Nippon Airways sponsored the survey that was conducted from December 2018 to January 2019.

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Pauline Macaraeg
Esquire Philippines
Pauline is Esquire Philippines’ data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg.
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