Western Visayas sets eyes on Japanese tourists

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ILOILO CITY: The Department of Tourism (DOT) is eyeing the rich Japanese tourism market with more than 20 million Japanese tourists going out every year.

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DOT Regional Director Helen Catalbas participated in a four-city Philippine Business Mission in Japan on May 26 to June 1, and she brought up Western Visayas, especially Iloilo City’s bid to have a share in the Japanese market to the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fokuoka.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez met the Philippine delegation and was appraised of the need for a possible direct flight between Iloilo and Japan.

DOT also conducted an initial talk with officials of Philippine Airlines to host a familiarization tour of Japanese travel media to Western Visayas in the next six months.

Catalbas said there is an urgent need to create a demand and consciousness in the travel market as the Japanese market is very rich.

Western Visayas partial tourist arrivals for 2012 reached 2,849,617, or 16.03-percent increase over the 2011 arrivals of 2,455,846.

DOT set a target of 2012 at 2,775,937 arrivals, or a 2.65-percent increase higher than target.

This mainly stems from the opening of direct flights and back to Hong Kong and Singapore from the Iloilo Airport in Caba­tuan, Iloilo.

In 2012, Japanese tourists posted 12,847 arrivals in the region or number 7 in the top 15 foreign countries whose tourists preferred the Ilonggo tourism attractions and amenities.

The other top arrivals in the region are Koreans as number 1 with 209,621 arrivals; followed by Taiwan with 94,328 arrivals; China with 87,553; USA with 31,193; Australia with 17,986; Russia with 17,369; Germany with 12,771; United Kingdom with 10,648; Hong Kong with 8,868; Canada with 8,610; Thailand with 7,351; Sweden with 5,144; and Malaysia with 4,712.

Catalbas said her office is set to host Japanese tour operators to come to the region while also inviting local tour operators to market in Japan.

Lydia C. Pendon

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