THE Department of Tourism (DoT) said it has pitched the Philippines to the Japanese travel market as a safe destination, following the sustained decline of coronavirus cases here.

In a statement on Tuesday, the DoT said a Philippine delegation led by Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was recently in Japan to confer with Japanese government and industry counterparts.

Japan was the fourth-largest source of visitors to the Philippines before the pandemic, the DoT said. In 2019, the Philippines tallied 682,788 visitors from Japan.

As of March 20, some 2,125 Japanese visitors have entered the country following the reopening of borders on Feb. 10.

During the visit, Ms. Romulo-Puyat met with Japanese travel agents, tour operators, tourism organizations, English studies operators, economic federations, and media in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.

“Some of the notable participants included STWorld; Japan Association of Travel Agents; JTB Corp.; Japan Travel and Tourism Association; Hankyu Travel International Co., Ltd.; Kansai Economic Federation; and the Japan Philippine Tourism Council,” the DoT said.

Ms. Puyat also met with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism to discuss resuming two-way travel which had been disrupted by the pandemic.

Japan is currently admitting only limited categories of foreign visitors, like students and business travelers.

Ms. Puyat said the Philippines is offering vaccine booster services at major destinations, which would allow Japanese visitors to return to Japan without undergoing quarantine.

“Like other tourism ministries, the Philippines’ DoT (is exhausting) all possible efforts to revive the industry, primarily to restore jobs and rebuild revenue streams. Now, we are glad to see the fruits of our labor after nearly two years of preparations to push for the recovery of the sector,” Ms. Puyat said.

Ms. Puyat said the Philippines became the first country in Southeast Asia to implement a no-quarantine, no-testing regime to arrivals, simplifying entry procedures.

“We are aware that the pandemic is still here and health should always be the priority. We strive to balance public safety and economic recovery by crafting policies that safeguard our citizens’ well-being (while reviving) the tourism sector,” Ms. Puyat said. 

More foreign visitors are set to enter the Philippines on April 1 after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases removed the arrival quota for unvaccinated passengers at all ports of entry. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave