Japanese tourists want ‘alternative travel’ in RP — DOT

May 14, 2009 3:15 am 

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By Lily O Ramos

MANILA, May 13 — Japanese tourists traveling to the Philippines have become discriminating and demanding for historical destinations and cultural sites of the country instead of the usual leisure and pleasure attraction it offers.

The Philippine tourism industry expects to welcome an increased number of Japanese arrivals for 2009, based on the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)’s Strategic Intelligence Center.

The Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) Corporation’s Prospective Travel Trends this year reveal that despite the present economic and financial environment, outbound travel for Japanese will continue, with more of the tourists spending their long vacation within Asia.

"The Japanese are looking forward to 'travel with a twist' among our more than 7,107 islands," said Department of Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano on Wednesday.

“Having been blessed with rich cultural heritage recognized the world over, promoting these sites not only encourages tourist activity, but also rekindles our love for going back to our roots,” added Durano.

The Tourism chief is noted for his optimism in tourism growth amidst global challenges and continues to enhance marketing campaigns in specific target markets.

He mentioned that the Department’s positive outlook for the year ahead is not unfounded, having noted the significant increase of Japanese tourists seeing the country's UNESCO-listed sites such as the Banaue rice terraces and the Palawan subterranean caves which are also encouraging locals to protect these timeless heritage treasures.

Likewise, Cebu, Bohol, and the Ilocos region, where heritage sites abound, are popular with the Japanese.

There is also great interest in the Ilocos region which is home to the unique "pinakbet pizza," made famous by Herencia Restaurant; "burnay," or traditional pottery; and the roster of antiques lined up along its cobble-stoned streets.

The DOT’s recent marketing efforts tapped various media outfits from specific segments to highlight the country’s potential as a prime heritage destination.

Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque Jr. said, “The Philippines’ media exposure in Japan media as an ‘alternative destination’ indeed made a significant difference in intensifying the country’s position as an important historical destination.”

Aside from the country's cultural sites, Jarque also noted that "Japanese tourists come to the Philippines for our top-rate dive sites" (recently rated among the top destinations by diving enthusiasts in Japan), delectable cuisine, diverse performing arts, and eco-tourism areas.

Jarque added, “More than visiting the country for the scenic landscapes and leisure activities, it is the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people that leave an indelible mark in every traveler’s experience; it is our people who complete their trip and make it a truly memorable and rewarding visit.”

“We see an emergence of niche travelers within the Japan market; those who are enticed by the extraordinary. They travel to discover and explore not only sites, but stories of people,” Director Benito Bengzon Jr., Marketing Team head for Japan, said.

Citing a specific instance where their team toured a media group from Japan, “They heard of the love story that spared Vigan from certain bombing in World War II. They immediately wanted to go visit the place,” said Bengzon. (PNA) scs/LOR

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