By Beatriz Pereña | Published: December 28, 2019
The Philippines had just warmly bid hello to its eight millionth foreign tourist, a Japanese couple who proved that the country is worth coming back for.
Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary Roberto Alabado III on December 27 welcomed Tamio and Yachiyo Imamoto, both 71 years old, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
This was the Imamotos’ eighth time in the country since their first visit 11 years ago, the couple said.
The Japanese couple is in Manila for an 11-day trip in the country, including Baler town in Aurora province. They are off to Quezon City to stay with their host family, a Filipino couple they met in Japan.
The couple will receive a round-trip ticket from Japan to Manila and an all-expense-paid domestic tour package to Siargao in 2020 as their visit marks the country’s highest foreign arrival to date.
Yachiyo, speaking in Nihongo, expressed her gratitude as she was surprised with the kind of reception they received upon their arrival.
Tamio, on the other hand, said he loves coming back to the Philippines for the warm weather as well as its famous mangoes.
“It’s only four hours from Japan, and it’s also winter in Japan. In the Philippines, it’s summer. Besides, the people here in the Philippines are very warm,” he said through a translator.
Meanwhile, Albado said he was astonished that the eight millionth foreign visitor turned out to be a senior citizen couple enjoying local hospitality.
“This portrays the Philippines as a very safe country wherein even senior citizens can go around. And the fact that this is their eighth time here, it says a lot,” he said.
“It will communicate to the Japanese people that we are worth coming back for and they are enjoying genuine Filipino hospitality,” he added.