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Cebu-Japan flights to boost tourism

Katlene O. Cacho - Philippine Sun Star, 21 December, 2014

The Department of Tourism (DOT) hopes more tourists from Japan will come to the country after carriers like the Philippine Airlines Inc. (PAL) started flying direct to Osaka and Nagoya from Cebu.

“This is a welcome development. The Japanese market is one of the most important tourist source for the country and Cebu, specifically. They are one of the quality tourists we want to have,” said Leona Nepomuceno, chief tourism operations officer of DOT’s Market Development Group, at the sidelines of PAL’s inaugural flight from Cebu to Nagoya over the weekend.

Although the Japanese market is only the country’s third major source of tourists after Korea and the USA, Nepomuceno said Japanese tourists have a big impact on the economy because they are big spenders.

“They enjoy various tourism activities — the beach, culture, and scuba diving among others. This market stays for an average of five days or for long-staying Japanese guests, a minimum of three weeks up to three months,” said Nepomuceno.

Data from the DOT website show that Japan arrivals to the Philippines stood at 382,633, up by 6.07 percent, during the first 10 months of the year. Japanese tourists spent P8.98 billion during their stay.

Starting last Friday, Dec. 19, PAL will operate four flights weekly, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, between Cebu and Osaka on PR 410. It will also operate three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays between Cebu and Nagoya on PR 480.

PAL said in a statement that the expanded routes to Japan are aimed at accommodating more visitors from country. The airline already has presence in Haneda, Narita, Osaka, Fukuoka and Nagoya.

Japanese arrivals in Cebu as of last September stood at 171,246, up by 12.24 percent from last year’s first nine months’ records. Japan is Cebu’s second major tourism market next to Korea.

Budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) is also scheduled to mount direct flights to Narita in Tokyo, Japan from its hub in Cebu starting March 26 next year.

Aside from the leisure travel, Nepomuceno said the market is also starting to see the potential of the Philippines as an English as Second Language (ESL) destination. She said the DOT has started doing roadshows in Japan for the Japanese high school and college students to learn English here.

“They said we produce high quality English-speaking students compared to other countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand,” she said.

International tourist arrivals to the Philippines grew by 2.28 percent in January to October, reaching a record 3,955,399 arrivals.

DOT said that foreign tourist receipts to the country grew 7.14 percent to $3.895 billion (P172.65 billion).

Korean tourists accounted for 28 percent of all international tourism receipts with P48.622 billion; followed by the United States (P33.61 billion), Australia (P11.04 billion), Japan (P8.48 billion) and China (P7.55 billion).

Aside from boosting Japanese tourists’ arrival in the country, Nepomuceno also said that the agency will be embarking on an aggressive tourism promotions for the Visit Philippines Year (VPY) 2015.

Bohol, the tourism partner of Cebu, was identified as a “power brand” for the VPY 2015, she said.

“We are all aware of what happened to Bohol after the earthquake and typhoon last year. This tourism campaign will definitely help Bohol revive what it lost, especially in terms of tourism,” said Nepomuceno, though she clarified that since August this year, DOT 7 has already seen tourists coming back to Bohol.