Japan’s Tourism Surges towards to 2020 Olympics

Mt Fuji from Kyoto in cherry blossom time. The postcard image of Japan

Mt Fuji from Kyoto in cherry blossom time. The postcard image of Japan

One of the many interesting presentations at the WTTC Global Summit of April 26-27 in Bangkok was an early morning briefing for delegates and the media by leaders of Japan’s tourism industry. Employing the Visit Japan Campaign strategy, started in 2003, Japan’s inbound tourism has achieved incredible growth in international tourism arrivals since the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In that year international tourist arrivals to Japan struggled to reach 6 million. However, in 2016 Japan welcomed a record 24 million international tourism arrivals. This represents a staggering 400% growth in just five years.

Promoting Japan to the world

Promoting Japan to the world

The Japanese commenced a “visit Japan” campaign strategy in 2003 to reduce the gap between the large number of Japanese travelling outbound in that year (18 million) and the far smaller number of inbound travelers (5 million). By the end of 2016 Japan exceeded its target of creating balance. The 24 million inbound travelers in 2016 greatly exceeded the 15 million outbound Japanese travelers. Since, 2003 the number of Japanese travelling domestically has also grown. Encouraging Japanese to visit their own country was an integral part of the government’s Visit Japan campaign.


TravelManagers’ personal travel managers (from left) Fiona Perry, Simon Alcaraz (NPO), Norie Sugisaki (Japan Airlines), Jeremy Ferguson, Angela Rees, and Melanie Harrop enjoy a day in the Ningyocho suburb in Tokyo well known for its many small temples and food delicacies

Japan’s tourism success story involves eight key elements:

  1. Focus on safety and hospitality, two of Japan’s greatest attributes as a tourism friendly destination.
  2. Aggressive marketing campaigns to key existing and potential source markets using a variety of media platforms.
  3. Enhancement of access to Japan by air and sea.
  4. Enhanced access to historical and cultural attractions in Japan.
  5. The opening of more national parks in Japan and promotion of Japan’s natural attractions.
  6. Greater emphasis and promotion on the business travel and MICR markets.
  7. Deregulation of accommodation to enhance productivity and competitiveness. Visitors to Japan now have a far greater choice of accommodation type and there has been strong support for Air B & B in Japan.
  8. Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic games provides a focus for tourism infrastructure growth over the next few years.
High speed rail. Japan pioneered high speed rail in 1964

High speed rail. Japan pioneered high speed rail in 1964

The success of Japan’s tourism strategy has been enhanced by massive growth in the number of visitors from China which reached 6.37 million in 2016. However other key source markets have contributed to the growth of inbound tourism to Japan . South Korea, Taipei, Hong Kong , Thailand, USA and Australia in combination contributed 14 million people to Japan’s inbound tourism arrivals in 2016.


A large Japanese delegation attended the 2017 WTTC Global Summit. Presenters at the Japan Breakfast workshop included Mr Yudi Iida Director International Tourism , Japan Association of Travel Agents, Mr Keisuke Okada Advisor to the Chairman ANA Holding, Mr Victor Osumi GM Seibu Holdings, Mr Masaru Onishi, Chairman Japan Airlines, Mr Yasuto Kawarabayashi, Vice Commission, Japan Tourism Agency, Mr Hiromi Tagawa Chairman of JRB and Vice Chairman WTTC, and Mr Koremitsu Sannomiya, Deputy Chairman JCB International.

Source = David Beirman

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