PBBM, Tourism chief engage Japanese tourism stakeholders in high-level meet in Tokyo
TOKYO, Japan —Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco sees President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s working visit to Japan as a boost for the Philippine tourism industry, after Japanese stakeholders expressed optimism on the points of collaboration laid out by the President himself.
“We are very thankful to the President for making time for the tourism stakeholders of Japan because this demonstrates that tourism really is a priority under the Marcos administration and that the potential that the Philippines and Japan hold in terms of exchanges in tourism is something we have yet to fully maximize and will do so under this administration,” said Secretary Frasco on Thursday (Feb. 9), following the high-level roundtable meeting initiated by the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT).
Open for Business
The President made it known to the Japanese tourism stakeholders that the Philippines is open and ready to welcome more Japanese tourists into its shores, as he underscored his administration’s commitment to carry out aggressive infrastructure projects aimed at improving road networks, as well as the initiative to boost Internet connectivity in tourist destinations in order to attract more visitors.
“Under this administration, the tourism industry has shifted its gaze to becoming more than just a promotion arm of the government, but also to ensuring that travel is not only convenient, connected, and equal for travelers, but as well for locals who are living and preserving our invaluable key and emerging tourist destinations,” the President said, as he manifested his support to the direction set by Frasco for the industry.
“With this in mind, this government has set the direction to harness the development of tourism in key tourism destinations. Through this, we will make sure that hard and soft infrastructure is well developed from roads, bridges, to medical facilities and clean water supplies and readily accessible to tourists and locals alike,” the President added.
President Marcos Jr. also announced during the dialogue that the Philippine government will lobby for the “lifting or limiting” of Japan’s travel advisories against key travel destinations in the Philippines, in order to revive the pandemic-hit tourism industry and further strengthen the friendship between Japan and the Philippines.
“With this, we are working on lobbying to the Japanese government for the lifting or limiting of its travel advisories against the Philippines’ key travel destinations,” said President Marcos Jr.
Capturing the Japanese visitor market
Prior to the pandemic, Secretary Frasco disclosed that Japan was ranked as the country’s fourth biggest international tourism source market, with visitor arrivals tallying 682,788 in 2019.
In 2022, with the progressive opening of borders, the Philippines received 99,557 tourists from Japan.
In her presentation, Secretary Frasco also shared the DOT’s intention to further develop tourism products that are popular among Japanese tourists, including diving, MICE, and education tourism, particularly, English as a Second Language (ESL).
“Over the years, the Japanese tourists have come to the Philippines for various reasons. The leading tourism products include general leisure and diving. The Philippines has also gained popularity as a preferred Education tourism destination for learning English and school trips. With the resumption of travel post-pandemic, and the growing interest in sustainable tourism, we are seeing new and innovative programs emerging in school trip modules offered in the marketplace. MICE is also a segment we would like to develop further,” explained Frasco.
The Philippines as a retirement destination
Frasco also noted that The Philippines is also a popular retirement destination for the Japanese. And as a first step leading towards that retirement decision, “long stay programs to the Philippines are continuously being pushed”.
The Philippines holds the largest Japanese diaspora population in Southeast Asia and the fourth in the world. The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), one of the DOT’s attached agencies, also reported Japan to be the sixth biggest retirement market for the Philippines.