Travel to Japan in demand among Filipinos

SINCE it opened its borders to leisure tourists and eased its travel requirements in October 2022, Japan has been enjoying increasing arrivals from the Philippines.

In 2022, there were 126,900 Filipinos who visited Japan. Specifically in the fourth quarter, Japan logged 14,775 Filipino arrivals in October; 21,700 in November and a whooping 40,000 in December.

Prior to the pandemic, Japan recorded over 600,000 tourists from the Philippines in 2019.

“We can really feel the so-called ‘revenge travel’ among Filipinos,” said Misaki Tatsuga, director at Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)-Manila in an interview Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.

“When Japan opened itself to all tourists in Oct. 11, we saw that the demand remained high. Even before the opening, we received so many inquiries from Manila, Cebu and other parts of the country. Demand is rising, even until now.”

Tourism figures for January 2023 are yet to be released but Tatsuga is confident that arrivals to Japan from the Philippines should be pretty high.

She said information from travel agencies revealed that Japan products are still popular among Filipinos. She cited Osaka and Tokyo as the top favored destinations by Filipinos, especially among first-time visitors.

For repeat travelers, Filipinos book flights to Hokkaido for snow experience.

On the average, Tatsuga said Filipinos stay in Japan for at least five nights and they usually travel in groups like with friends and families. When in Japan, Filipinos splurge on food, sightseeing and outlet shopping.

Visit Japan campaign

The team of JNTO-Manila mounted in Cebu on Tuesday the “Visit Japan Travel Seminar and Business-Meeting Session 2023” at Radisson Blu Cebu.

This event aimed to promote and endorse Japan Tourism, with the help of organizations and representatives from some cities in Japan. It introduced and highlighted the top and the best destinations in Japan.

Twelve sellers from Japan representing the hotel, local government unit, retail, airline and transport services sectors and 18 buyers, mostly travel agencies from Cebu attended the one-day hybrid event.

“The goal here is to help create new business opportunities for Japan,” said Tatsuga.

Besides the popular Tokyo and Osaka destinations, Tatsuga expects more Filipinos to visit the promising Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan where Fukuoka, known for museums and megamalls, and Nagasaki, known for hot-spring spas are located.

“Filipinos love food. These destinations in Kyushu are also known to have best cuisines,” said the JNTO official.

Investment pledges

Recently, the Marcos administration went for a five-day trip to Tokyo, Japan to strengthen the economic and political ties between Japan and the Philippines.

The government said it brought home US$13 billion worth of investment pledges that will help boost the economy and generate around 24,000 jobs for Filipinos.

On the other hand, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco shared the Department of Tourism’s intention to further develop tourism products that are popular among Japanese tourists, including diving, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions and education tourism, particularly, English as a second language.

Japan was ranked as the country’s fourth biggest international tourism source market, with visitor arrivals tallying 682,788 in 2019.

In 2022, with the progressive opening of borders, the Philippines received 99,557 tourists from Japan.