MANILA, Philippines - More Filipino tourists flocked to Japan in April, in time to see the "sakura" or cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Figures from Japan National Tourism Organization showed Philippine visitor arrivals to Japan jumped by nearly 130 percent in April from the previous month, the fastest growth reported among foreign visitor arrivals.
In May, Philippine visitor arrivals continued to grow by 71 percent.
JNTO data showed the Philippines is one of its fastest growing source of foreign visitor arrivals.
Cebu Pacific said it flew over 45,800 passengers to and from Japan for the months of April and May 2014, over 480 percent higher than the same period in 2013.
April and May are the "summer" months for Filipinos, while it is "spring" season in Japan.
Cebu Pacific launched its direct daily services to Tokyo (Narita) and four weekly services to Nagoya in March. The low-cost carrier also started operating daily services to Osaka earlier this year.
"With CEB’s new Japan destinations and trademark low fares, those who have always been interested in traveling to Japan now find themselves able to do so. This amazing growth in Filipino tourist arrivals to Japan is what we call the Cebu Pacific effect. We hope we can continue stimulating traffic not just to Japan, but to the Philippines as well," CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog said.
Japan has been boosting its efforts to attract foreign tourists. It is targeting to increase the number of foreign visitors to 20 million, as it hosts the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Last month, Japan announced it was relaxing visa requirements for Filipino tourists.
The Japanese embassy said requirements will be liberalized for Filipinos applying for multiple-entry visa, as well as those applying for single-entry tourist visas.
"For nationals of the Philippines, multiple-entry visa requirements will be substantially relaxed, and requirements for single-entry tourism visas will be relaxed to a quasi-exemption-equivalent level when applied via specified travel agencies," the embassy said.