Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo is a popular brand in the Philippines, particularly in the capital. This year, the Uniqlo shops in the city are selling a wider range of winter items — down jackets, woolly scarves and other items occupy the best locations in the shops — just beside the entrance, for example.
Why is winter clothing so popular in a subtropical nation where the average temperature is 26-27 C all year round? According to Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo chain, locals here are increasingly buying these items for travelling to colder locations abroad, including Japan.
This is the fifth winter here for the Japanese brand since the operator opened its first Uniqlo outlet in the Philippines in 2012. Its ultralight down jacket carries a price tag of 3,490 pesos ($70.22) — a “luxury” range for Manilans, who earn on average around $7,200 a year. Nevertheless, there is definitely demand, said a company representative.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, some 270,000 Filipinos visited Japan in 2015, a 46% jump from the previous year. This year, the number has already reached 280,000, and is expected to exceed 300,000 by December. Their typical route includes Asakusa, a traditional district in Tokyo, Tokyo Disneyland, the Hakone spa resort near Tokyo, and Mount Fuji. Average cost for a four-night stay is around $1,800.
In luring even more Philippine tourists to Japan, however, the visa requirement is still a hurdle. The Japanese government has effectively removed the requirement for Philippine travelers arriving on packaged tours. But those coming to Japan individually for a short stay still need to obtain a visa. Japanese short-stay visitors to the Philippines do not need a visa.
More relaxed rules would help attract more visitors to Japan, and Uniqlo will be able to sell more down jackets in the Southeast Asian country.
Source and image: Nikkei