WITH Cebu’s increased air connectivity to Japan, the country’s largest provincial economic hub remains a key tourist market for the east Asian country.
Daisuke Tonai, executive director at the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Manila office, told SunStar Cebu that from January to June this year, the number of Filipino travelers to Japan reached 295,100, up 7.1 percent compared to the same period of 2018.
While there is no specific data on Cebuano travelers to Japan, Tonai pointed out that it’s increasing, as airlines flying from Cebu to Japan have increased their frequency in recent months.
“We don’t have the number of Filipino travelers from Cebu to Japan, but we assume it is increasing,” the official said, noting that Cebu Pacific increased frequency between Cebu and Narita from four times a week to daily on Dec. 1, 2018, while Philippine Airlines increased its frequency between Cebu and Chubu (Nagoya) from four times a week to daily on April 1, 2019
According to Tonai, Cebu is an important market for Japan tourism.
“Cebu is the second biggest economic region in the Philippines, and there are direct flights to Narita, Chubu and Kansai (Osaka), so for us Cebu is one of our important markets,” said Tonai, who works to promote Japan to Filipino travelers.
According to a survey conducted by the Japanese government, 51.3 percent of Filipino travelers to Japan in 2018 were repeat travelers.
“Since the Japanese government started issuing multiple visit visa for Filipinos in 2013, the number of multiple visa holders has been increasing, and for them it became easier to travel to Japan as much as they wish,” Tonai said.
“We assume the same trend may happen in Cebu,” he added.
JNTO, he noted, is now looking to introduce undiscovered local areas of Japan for repeat travelers “to encourage them to travel to Japan many times and have wonderful memories.”
While travelers from Cebu to Japan are rising, Japanese visitors to Cebu have also sustained growth.
Japanese usually come to Cebu to seek refuge in the tropical island’s year-round warm weather or enroll in English classes on short- to medium-term stints.
In 2018, Japan was among Cebu’s top three tourist markets, along with Korea and China.
Last year, visitor arrivals in Central Visayas, where Cebu is the tourist hub, hit 8.1 million foreign and domestic tourists. (CSL)