CLARK FREEPORT – With the Japanese government’s relaxation of its visa requirements, the number of Filipinos visiting the “land of the rising sun” has tremendously increased.
This was bolstered by the launching of the Clark-Narita flights of Cebu Pacific (CEB) on Friday as announced by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) at the Marriott Hotel here where two other maiden flights of CEB (Clark-Iloilo and Clark-Bacolod) were formally opened.
Daisuke Tonai, JNTO executive director, said during his speech that xan unprecedented high number of visitors in Japan was noted.
He said last year, Japan welcomed over 500,000 Filipino travelers. “This number is the highest ever with about 90 percent increase from 2017 and in terms of international travelers to Japan by countries and region, the Philippines is the second largest contributor of tourist from Southeast Asia after Thailand,” Tonai said.
Tonai noted that before the relaxation of visa requirements by the Japanese government, the number of Filipino travelers to Japan was only about 100,000 in 2013.
This means that Japan welcomed five times more Filipino travelers now as compared to five years ago.
The Japanese executive thanked CEB “for making this great moment as our mission is to promote Japan and attract international visitors.”
He said a notable change in the market trend has been observed which means Filipino travelers are becoming attracted to Japan.
He added that “another trend we have observed is the growing number of repeat travelers to Japan from the Philippines according to the survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency.
Tonai said first time Filipino travelers to Japan accounted for 60.2 percent share in 2014. “Since then, the share of repeat travelers has been expanding and just last year, about half of Filipino travelers to Japan were repeat travelers.”
“Especially notable is the increase of Filipino travelers to Japan three times or more, and we believe this is due to the increase of multiple visa issuances,” he added.
Tonai said, “since the opening of our Manila office in October 2018, we have been working with CEB and we are happy that the airline has been very passionate in promoting Japan.”
He added that just last month, CEB and JNPO held a product update here for local travel agents “to introduce this new route along with the latest information on tourism attractions in Japan.”
CEB is one of the most valued clients of JNPO, he added.
Tonai said there are so many attractive places and experiences in Japan that are yet to be discovered, “as we say Japan is a country of endless discovery.”
“We are very glad to have more opportunities to welcome travelers from Clark to Japan which is a new route and we would like to off er more unforgettable travel experiences through new ideas and new itineraries,” he added.
On the other hand, Tonai said, the number of Japanese visitors to the Philippines is also growing.
Last year, over 630,000 Japanese visited the Philippines, which is around eight percent increase compared to 2017, he said.
“We observed that there is a trend among the younger Japanese that they see the Philippines as a destination of choice to learn English and to enjoy many activities,” he said.
“With options of domestic connecting flights, Clark is on its way to becoming a gateway to the Philippines for these potential Japanese travelers,” Tonai said.
Looking back at the total number of travelers between both countries is over 1,125,000 last year and this is more than double compared to five years ago, he observed.
“The steady increase of travelers is a positive time of healthy tourism industries in both countries and a deepening of friendship between the Philippines and Japan,” he noted.
“JNPO will surely continue to work with Cebu Pacific in encouraging travelers to go to Japan using this new route,” he said.
Present during the launching on Friday were CEB president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD) Corp. president and CEO Bi Yong Chungunco, Mabalacat City Mayor Crisostomo Garbo, CEB executives as well as other officials.