Japan targets high-spending, middle-class Filipino tourists

by Estrella Torres, BusinessMirror

Posted at Dec 06 2012 07:13 AM | Updated as of Dec 06 2012 07:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Citing the country’s “very robust economic growth,” officials from the Japanese tourism office and travel agents are now eyeing to attract high-spending middle-class travelers from the Philippines to visit Japan.

Masahide Adachi, director of Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) in Singapore, said there is very limited information about Japanese tourism attractions in the Philippines.

“Now is the time to [attract] more tourists from the Philippines and let them get to know more about Japan. The very robust economic growth [of the Philippines] allows more and more people to travel to foreign countries and we want to attract these people to come to Japan,” said Adachi in an interview at the launch on Wednesday of the Japan travel seminar and business meeting held at the Mandarin hotel in Makati.

He said there were 80,000 Filipino tourists who traveled to Japan in 2010 but the number was reduced drastically last year to only 60,000 due to the great earthquake and tsunami that struck a large part of that country.

But this year, the number is increasing and is expected to reach 90,000 by the end of the year. The number of Filipino tourists who flocked to Japan increased by 73 percent at 17,884 in 2011 to 30,994 in 2012 for the period January to August.

Hiroshi Masuda, executive director for Bangkok office of Japan National Tourism Organization, said Filipino tourists can enjoy a wide variety of attractions and experience four seasons in Japan.

He said Filipinos can enjoy the cherry blossoms season between April to May across Japan and majestic snow season, particularly in the island of Hokkaido, where winter is described by many as perfect for some snow activities.

Japanese travel agents who met with their Filipino counterparts at the event offer a wide choice of travel experience depending on the budget of tourists.

Tourism officials said the lowest rate for a four-day, three-night stay in Japan can be as low as $600 for the accommodation, exclusive of airfares.

Masuda said traveling to Japan is also easy as there are many airlines with direct flights to various areas in Japan.

For instance, the country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, flies five times a week to Kyushu, which is only three-and-a-half hour from Manila.

Among the top four tourists in Japan include China, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Tourism officials in Japan said the Philippines is among those at the bottom of the list compared to some neighbors in Southeast Asia.