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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Players show agents: We’re safe, come over

AN association of hotels and resorts wants to attract more Japanese tourists to Cebu and Bohol as part of efforts to enhance the two provinces’ tourist arrivals, after having received a number of cancellations due to the Marawi seige.

The Japanese Travel Industries Association in Cebu (JATIC) organized last Thursday the second leg of the five-day Cebu-Bohol familiarization tour that welcomed 25 travel agents from the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka in Japan.

The tour is one of the results of the Philippine Business Mission in Japan last June 25 to 30. A welcome dinner was hosted last Thursday at the Mactan Airport, and a farewell dinner ceremony is set today, July 8.

“If the situation (in Marawi) gets better, we expect more Japanese tourists in Cebu,” said JATIC president Manabu Kubota. Although Cebu is far from the conflict-prone area, the official said some tourists still cancelled their trips here.

Kubota reported that a number of Koreans cancelled their trips to Cebu and Bohol following the Marawi crisis, which began last May 23. As for the Japanese, he said the Philippines, except Mindanao, still maintains a “No. 1 travel code” from the Japanese Government, which means it is a relatively safer place to visit. Mindanao, he said, bears a “No. 2” travel code. The higher the number, Kubota said, the more Japanese citizens are cautioned against traveling.

“Yes, with what’s happening here, travel agencies have received cancellations and their reason is the ongoing (siege) in Mindanao. (I hope) the travel advisory (code) doesn’t change (for Cebu and the Philippines),” Kubota said.

The first familiarization tour, which did not include Bohol yet, was organized in 2015 by JATIC and its member establishments, Department of Tourism (DOT) 7, Philippine Airlines, and GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. The same companies organized the tour this year.

“Although Cebu is quite known as a vacation destination, still a lot of Japanese, especially in the provinces, don’t know about Cebu,” said Kubota.

Data from DOT 7 showed that there were 314,997 Japanese travelers to Cebu in 2016, or an increase of 10.82 percent from the year 2015, when 284,251 from Japan visited Cebu.

Kubota said that Japanese nationals usually stay for five days at a maximum, but when they’re traveling, they spend much. In addition, there is a growing number of Japanese students coming over to Cebu for English as a Second Language classes, as well as leisure.
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