Tourism stakeholders in Japan express bullishness on doing business in the Philippines as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. assured them of the Philippine government’s continued support for the sector during the high-level meet held as part of the President’s official visit to Japan.

During the meeting, President Marcos Jr. reiterated that tourism is vital for economic resurgence, thus he said: “With the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine government assures that we will exhaust all our efforts to revive this extremely important industry.”

“We urge our airline partners present here today to restore your pre-pandemic routes and explore new routes linking our Philippine destinations with key source cities in Japan,” President Marcos, Jr. requested the tourism players present in the high-level meet initiated by the DOT.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco noted that the meeting also aims to promote the viability and openness of the Philippines for tourism investments.

“We shared our plans and programs under the Marcos administration with regard to how we intend to develop further the Japanese market considering that prior to the pandemic, over 682,000 Japanese came into the Philippines. We are aware that they have an interest in certain tourism product offerings including dive, as well as health and wellness and English as a Second Language,” Secretary Frasco remarked during a media interview after the meeting.

Among the stakeholders present during the discussion are the ASEAN-Japan Centre, Association for English Studies in the Philippines (PSAA), Japan Association of Overseas Studies (JAOS), Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), Japan Philippine Tourism Council (JPTC), and Marine Creative, and MICE Japan Magazine.

Airlines including Air Asia, ANA Air, Cebu Pacific, Japan Airlines, Jetstar-Japan and Philippine Airlines also took part in the high-level meet.

Takahashi Hiroyuki, Chairperson of JATA said that with the potential resumption of tourism international exchange, the Philippines hold great potential to attract a large number of Japanese visitors with its many tourism offerings.

“The Philippines is very appealing for Japanese people with its hospitality and cheerfulness. Furthermore, the Philippines [have] a mild climate all year, making it a popular destination for younger people to relax at beach resorts like Cebu and Boracay Island. And for retirees, [for] an extended period of time. Many Japanese companies have also established operations in the region. We anticipate further growth as a business travel destination,” Takahashi noted.

Masao Okuyama of Marine Creative, organizer of the Marine Diving Fair, one of Asia’s largest diving events, thanked the DOT for its support through booth participation in diving fairs.

“The Japanese love the Philippine ocean. There are so many reasons for it. As border restriction relaxes, many divers are excited to visit the Philippines again. We would like to send out more information so that more divers will visit the Philippines,” Masao said.

Kento Hasebe from the JPTC noted that despite the hiatus brought about by the pandemic, the organization is eager to jumpstart its activities starting this year.

“We hope that we can share the many attractions of the Philippines to a lot of people,” he said.

Returning the stakeholders’ optimism, the Tourism Secretary said: “The effort under the Marcos administration is to ensure that we would make it as seamless as possible for us to entice more students to study in the Philippines and that will entail our coordination with the Bureau of Immigration to be able to relax and liberalize policies in this regard.”