MANILA, March 27, 2006 (BULLETIN) The Department of Tourism (DoT) is bracing the industry for the expected influx of Japanese tourists, which are expected to top last yearís total of 400,000.

The DoT-Tokyo and the Overseas Tour Operators Association (OTOA) of Japan have begun a series of tourism capability building seminars with the staging of its first leg in Bohol only recently.

The seminar was led by OTOA director Yoshinori Yama and training/education committee chief Taguchi Kunio. The objective is to improve Boholís capability to handle inbound Japanese travelers.

Likewise, the DoT has just concluded a presentation to the private sector in Manila and Cebu on the Philippine marketing strategy in Japan.

"All such activities are designed to enable the local tourism industry to competently handle the surge of Japanese arrivals, which have breached 400,000 for the first time in 20 years," said DoT Secretary Joseph Ace H. Durano.

"That volume contributed significantly to the countryís total foreign arrivals of 2.613 million in 2005, exceeding the governmentís target of 2.5 million and posting a 12.3-percent hike over 2004," Durano added.

Among all nationalities, Japanese tourists have the biggest disposable income and love for shopping, with total spend of .5 billion and average spend per traveler of ,746 in 2003.

At the same time, Asia is now gaining the biggest share of 45.1 percent of the Japanese outbound market, with the Philippines now being acknowledged as Japanís nearest tropical neighbor.

Some 70 percent of Japanese overseas travelers come from Tokyo (41 percent), Osaka (15 percent), and Nagoya (12 percent), making the DoT focus its marketing efforts on these three strategic cities.

Of Japanís 17-million outbound market, 60 percent are controlled by the top 10 players. Thus, the DoT has been zeroing in on them in its wholesale and pointof-sale merchandising campaigns.

The priority market segments are the 1.6 million independent Japanese women, 900,000 dive and nature buffs, 1.8 million elite, and 11 million timid travelers, who are the easiest to encourage to travel to the Philippines because of its local cuisine and drinks, historical landmarks, natural beauty and landscapes, spa and relaxation facilities, and other enjoyable and pleasurable activities and experiences.

Thus for this year, the DoT is implementing its "Wellness from the Inside Out" campaign, which reinforces and adds a new dimension to the Philippine brand image of "Premium Resorts" in the Japanese market.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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