Philippine Tourism Chief Entices Greater Share of Japanese Dive Market

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The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) and members of the local tourism sector recently staged the best of the country’s underwater adventures at the Marine Diving Fair 2008 (MDF) in Tokyo, Japan.

Brightly lit and bearing images of cool blue aquatic scenery, the Philippines stood out as one of the largest foreign exhibitors in the three-day event held at the Sunshine City Convention Center in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.

The MDF is the top diving and beach resort convention for the Japanese travel trade, diving community and holiday-seekers. Over 200 national tourism organizations, dive equipment manufacturers, hotels, airlines, specialized tour operators and other tourism-related establishments from over 65 countries join the fair yearly.

“The Japanese outbound dive market accounts for over a million certified scuba divers. Our participation at the MDF focused on maintaining our country’s presence as a premiere destination for this group. What makes the Philippines attractive are mainly the quality of the underwater experience, the warm and hospitable staff, and the competitive price range of the tour packages,” Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism, said.

Assisting to present the best of the islands were representatives from travel wholesalers Expedition Fleet and Blue Coral Diving Tours. Establishments showcasing the facilities and services available to divers included Club Paradise, El Nido Resorts, Pacific Cebu Resorts International, Sun Beam Marine Sports and Philippine Airlines.

Also present at the Philippine pavilion to answer queries from fair visitors were members of the Philippine Tourism Authority and the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving.

Accompanying Secretary Durano were DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque, Jr., DOT Team Japan Marketing Head Benito Bengzon, Jr., Tokyo-based Tourism Attaché Val Cabansag and Osaka-based Tourism Attaché Araceli Soriano.

Confirming the DOT’s and local travel industry’s efforts, an expo survey ranked the Philippines as one of the top overseas dive destinations among the Japanese. Secretary Durano received the award from MDF organizer Akira Tateishi during the fair’s culminating ceremony.

“Our presence in Japan for this event is part of a bigger strategy to strengthen our visibility among the various segments of the Japanese tourist population. Aside from divers, the Department also plans to get a bigger share of active seniors and independent ladies. These groups consistently show the most enthusiasm and propensity for travel,” Durano explained.

The Tourism Chief further led the press launching of the 2008 Premium Resort Islands campaign for the Japanese travel sector, which applies the tagline “Kokoro Somaru” or “Color My Heart.”

The new campaign was unveiled at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi. More than 100 media representatives from Japan and the Philippines, and members of the Japanese travel industry witnessed the event, making it the DOT’s largest press conference to date.

Kokoro Somaru applies three main colors to highlight different aspects of the Philippine holiday experience. Turquoise blue symbolizes clear blue seas, diving, and calmness and relaxation; premium yellow calls out tropical fruits, healing and health from spas, the vibrancy of modern city life and energy of shopping and dining; and bright red speaks of romantic sunsets, resort life and the warmth of the Filipino people.

A special attraction of the campaign is the engagement of popular Japanese cultural icon Hello Kitty. As a special endorser for the Philippines, mascot will appear in the major travel and tourism events of the DOT in Japan. The Hello Kitty logo will likewise be used in brochures and other marketing items for Japanese travelers.

Joining Hello Kitty as the faces promoting the country is popular Japanese TV and movie personality Ms. Rin Takanashi. The actress will be gracing the Department’s destination posters and other materials.

Japan is currently the Philippines’ third leading source of foreign arrivals. A total of 65,901 Japanese nationals visited the islands between January and February this year, making up 11.5 percent of over-all tourist traffic.

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