PH could tap Japanese MICE market to increase arrivals: envoy

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

May 15, 2019, 8:45 am

MANILA -- Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda on Tuesday said the Philippines could tap his country's MICE market to further increase the arrivals of Japanese to the country.

MICE refers to meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions, a market in the tourism industry involved in booking and facilitating seminars or other events.

"MICE is perhaps one area that you can tap. All-in-all, I hope that you can attract more Japanese tourists to the Philippines," he told reporters in an interview in Makati City.

The country used to rank eighth worldwide and first in Asia in the annual listing of world convention destinations in 1982.

In 2016, Philippine MICE placed 48th in 116 countries worldwide and 14th among 35 countries in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East region in terms of having the most number of meetings.

The envoy said he sees the efforts of the Philippine government in exploring opportunities on this niche area of tourism.

Tokyo remains a top tourist market in the Philippines, ranking third in the latest arrivals statistics of the Department of Tourism (DOT) this year. From January to March 2019, Japanese visitors reached 177,769.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (center) together with Ambassador Haneda (from her right) and other members of the diplomatic corps. (DOT photo)

'A lot to offer'

During his trip to Boracay recently, Haneda said he and Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also discussed other ways to strengthen tourism in both countries.

"I've been discussing with Secretary (Bernadette Romulo-Puyat) on how we could attract more Japanese tourists to the Philippines especially the female ones and also Filipinos to Japan," he noted.

"You have a lot of beaches, your people are kind, you have a lot of tourist spots that are beautiful, I think there's a lot of tourism assets that could further attract the Japanese," he said.

He noted that the new face of Boracay alone is appealing enough to attract more foreign tourists.

"I happened to be in Boracay before the closure so I was able to see the before and after, I was impressed that everything was okay and it was really less crowded and it has a more beautiful beach," he shared, recalling his Boracay trip together with some members of the diplomatic corps upon the invitation of Puyat.

Haneda also shared his observation that the people were now more "disciplined" and followed the rules set on the island. (PNA)