PH visitors to Japan up 20% | SunStar

PH visitors to Japan up 20%

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PH visitors to Japan up 20%

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stop, look and listen. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo is said to be the busiest intersection and is a must-stop for Tokyo visitors. (SunStar Foto/Mia E. Abellana-Aznar)

MORE Filipinos are expected to visit Japan this year, as its capital city Tokyo opens refreshing and new attractions leading up to its hosting of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Maiko Iwaki, tourism promotion manager of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Japan saw a 20 percent increase in Filipino arrivals year-on-year since 2012, progress that is “too difficult to ignore” in the Southeast Asian market.

Iwaki said some 424,200 Filipinos have visited Japan in 2017.

“We are paying attention to the Philippines because it is growing at 20 percent. We see big potential in the Philippines as far as tourism exchanges is concerned,” she said.

Of the total number of Filipinos who went to Japan last year, about 93 percent were booked as free independent travelers (FITs) while the remaining seven percent were group bookings.

About 66 percent of Filipinos stayed in Tokyo, 59 percent in Chiba, 48 percent in Osaka, 27 percent in Kyoto and 10 percent explored Nara.

The Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled to Cebu travel agents last Wednesday Tokyo’s newest logo and slogan—“Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New,” which puts a strong emphasis on the image and identity of Tokyo where traditions and innovations meet and coexist.

Iwaki said they aim to attract more arrivals each year, introduce new tourism offerings, and expand accommodation capacity as Japan strives to become the leading tourism destination in the world.

By 2020, Japan aims to welcome 40 million visitors as it hosts the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tokyo, on the other hand, aims to achieve 25 million arrivals.

According to the 2016 Household Survey on Domestic Visitors released by the Department of Tourism, China, including Hong Kong, was the top country visited among Filipino outbound travelers followed by Malaysia, Japan, United States and Singapore from April to September 2016.

Iwaki said Tokyo, never runs out of new things to offer its guests, the reason many Filipinos visit the city repeatedly each year.

“Various projects are underway until 2020,” said Iwaki. She cited Shibuya Stream, a mixed-use complex that is slated for opening this year, as a new attraction to watch out for.

Moreover, as it strives to increase its arrivals, Iwaki said Tokyo is also preparing its accommodation industry for the swarm of guests in the coming years.

She said booking a room in Tokyo will no longer be difficult, as the industry added more than 10,000 rooms between 2015 and 2016. More than 5,000 have also been added last year.

Likewise, to make the city friendlier to tourists, the Tokyo Government has upgraded its tourist information centers and installed call center services that offer translation services.

It also installed digital interactive signs in many languages to guide tourists around the city.

A Condé Nast Traveler survey crowned Tokyo as the world’s best city in 2017. It described Tokyo as “a mix of contradictions from ultramodern, neon-lit skyscrapers to tranquil temples, historic shrines, and expansive forests.” Tokyo was also described as a city that has more Michelin stars than any other place on Earth and is one of the world’s best food destinations.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on February 17, 2018.

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