TOKYO, JAPAN – In a parallel event to the 14th Philippine Business Mission (PBM) for tourism held in Japan, President Rodrigo Duterte met with leaders of the Japanese travel industry and invited them to invest in the Philippines, stating that now is the best time. The tourism and travel sector stand to benefit from the Build, Build, Build program, which has a number of ongoing transportation infrastructure development projects to achieve seamless travel to and around the archipelago.
Organized by the Department of Tourism, the travel industry meeting with the President was a historic occasion, signaling the importance held by Japan as the country’s fourth biggest foreign tourist market.
The historic meeting coincides with the annual Philippine Business Mission organized by the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions Board. This year, the three-city PBM, covering Sapporo, Nagoya and Tokyo from May 27-31, 2019, takes pride in having a 38-company strong Philippine delegation.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat earlier presented an economically viable tourism sector teeming with exciting investment opportunities in the areas of accommodation, transportation, leisure and recreation facilities, food and beverage and even infrastructure.
The Japanese Association of Travel Agents (JATA) President, Tadashi Shimura, mentioned that under the leadership of Secretary Puyat, there have been focused marketing initiatives in Japan for Philippine tourism. He noted that in 2018, the 8.15% growth rate of Japanese arrivals to the Philippines was higher than the total Japan outbound rate of 6% and thanked the Philippines for supporting efforts to grow the Japanese market further.
Shimura also affirmed that Japan’s travel industry will help the Philippines develop and promote more destinations following Cebu and Manila and support the country’s advocacy on sustainable tourism. JATA will send 20 travel agencies to the Philippines to meet with local travel agents and explore possible areas of collaboration.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arturo Tugade enthused that the development of new airports and expansion of existing gateways serve to attract many investment and business opportunities for airline companies and airport operators in Japan.
International air seats to the Philippines from Japan now total 3,250,264 as of March 2019. The inbound traffic is expected to rise with Philippine Airlines’ introduction of Chitose-Manila thrice weekly flights last December, Japan Airlines’ daily service linking Haneda with Manila since February and the upcoming flights of Air Asia (Osaka-Manila, July 1), and Cebu Pacific (Narita-Clark, August 9).
Anticipating an upsurge of visitors, President Duterte cautioned, “We are receiving a lot of tourists now and soon, some areas might not be able to accommodate you for lack of facilities. We suggest for those who are interested to go into business to participate in building resorts for your citizens.”
With the improved airports and seaports, inter-island travel will be easier, more comfortable and with more providers coming in, more affordable, the President added.
The Philippines played host to 631,801 Japanese travelers in 2018, an 8.15% growth versus 2017.
With no less than the President in attendance, more business and investment leads are expected to yield reciprocal arrangements to further strengthen Japan-Philippine tourism relations.