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Philippines tourism department drive targets Japanese golfers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is now wooing Japanese golfers as the country’s next “quality tourists.”

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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is now wooing Japanese golfers as the country’s next “quality tourists.”

DOT Secretary Ace Durano said he and other tourism officials have been working with the Philippine Airlines Nagoya Consortium to reach niche markets in the Japanese travel sector.

“Our recent meeting in Nagoya updated us on the latest trends among Japanese tourists. We also devoted a good amount of time looking into new opportunities to boost arrivals not only in terms of quantity, but more on quality,” Durano said in a statement.

Durano said the conference between DOT officials and the eight-member Japanese industry consortium was held at the Hilton Hotel in Nagoya.

The tourism chief said the agenda centered on intensifying its promotional efforts to golfers, travelers in search of tropical beach getaways and students.

“Golfers are classified as ‘quality tourists’–they have the resources and the natural preference to patronize premium accommodations and stay for a longer period of time. Our challenge lies in opening more golf courses in more destinations and showcase a wider array of extra services,” said tourism undersecretary Eduardo Jarque.

Jarque said the Japanese consortium has already begun negotiations with locations across the country, including Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Mt. Malarayat Golf Course and Boracay Fairways and Bluewaters in offering tour packages to Japanese golfers.

“The group further expressed their intent to expand their promotional programs for the leisure and resort sector and eventually develop more islands for those in search of the perfect tropical getaway,” Jarque said.

He added that the DOT supported the consortium’s proposal, pointing out that the availability of more facilities in other places would “allow for more choices to suit different tastes.”

Jarque also said the DOT is set to work with Japanese travel agents that specialize in educational programs for high school and university students.

“We were advised that Singapore and Australia are the more popular destinations for learning programs. However, these are becoming more expensive and there are difficulties in matching the school requirements with what the overseas itinerary offers,” DOT Team Japan Head Benito Bengzon, Jr. said.

He added that the consortium was optimistic that the Philippines would make for an attractive destination as the country presented a unique learning experience in the areas of culture, nature and language.

“The DOT is positive that the country currently maintains a strong presence among other markets, such as independent young women, divers and active seniors. Particularly, the Philippines has been consistently recognized as one of the top three underwater destinations by Japan’s diving sector, which includes over three million licensed scuba divers,” Jarque said.

Japan is currently the third leading source of travelers to the Philippines, according to the DOT. Arrivals from this country reached 157,362 from January to May 2008, providing 11.5 percent of over-all tourist traffic.

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