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Japanese government wants to encourage wealthy foreigners to travel deeper into Japan, NHK says

33 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Prior to the start of the pandemic, Japan had been enjoying year after year of record-breaking inbound foreign tourist numbers. That sustained surge ran into a wall as the country enacted some of the world’s strictest border controls, essentially prohibiting all foreign leisure travelers from entering the country until two months ago.

Those protocols are gradually being relaxed, though, and the announcement last week that travelers coming to Japan will no longer be required to take pre-departure COVID tests is being seen as another positive development by the tourism industry. Now national broadcaster NHK reports that the Japan Tourism Agency, part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will be launching a new program specifically aimed at attracting wealthy foreign tourists and encouraging them to visit parts of Japan they’ve previously overlooked.

NHK references statistics showing that a certain subset of foreign travelers to Japan spend over one million yen on their trip, insinuating that demographic as the likely target of the project. According to the report, though, those travelers spend the majority of their trip in large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, and so the Japan Tourism Agency will be selecting 10 other sightseeing areas of Japan to promote to wealthy foreign travelers in an effort to revitalize those local economies, with the agency providing assistance in marketing, branding, and development of tourism/hospitality provider staff that can accommodate said tourists. The project will also involve the Japan National Tourism Organization, a sub-agency of the Japan Tourism Agency, which would be involved in promoting the designated regions to overseas travel providers that handle travel to Japan.

Focusing on wealthy inbound tourists could be a timely strategy, Currently, the only way for foreign tourists to enter Japan is as part of a guided tour, but the extra costs associated with guided tours make them comparatively less popular with travelers on a tight budget. So if the most budget-conscious travelers are currently unable to get into Japan, there’s some logic in shifting promotional focus to travelers who do have extra cash to spend on their trip.

On the other hand, Japan owes a lot of its rapid pre-pandemic increases in inbound foreign tourist numbers to younger travelers, many of whom aren’t rich. A lot of the experiences they were craving, such as eating at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, going to an anime fan event, or seeing the deer at Nara Park, aren’t particularly expensive outings, but less-wealthy travelers have still collectively contributed a lot to the Japanese economy.

That said, an increase in promotional efforts aimed at one demographic doesn’t necessarily mean less promotion for other demographics, so hopefully the Japan Tourism Agency won’t forget about travelers who aren’t going to be spending a million yen on their trip.

Source: NHK News Web

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan will no longer require pre-departure COVID tests for international travelers

-- Weak yen should have Japan fast-tracking reopening to foreign tourists, prominent politician says

-- Japan to begin accepting tourists from the U.S., three other countries this month

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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Tempted to read this article whilst listening to the Benny Hill theme.... Because this entire affair is a damn circus!

0 ( +19 / -19 )

Japan is no longer a tourist destination. The internet made Japan accessible to tourism generating $44bn pa in revenue. The government have now ended that. South Korea is replacing it. Wealthy people don't expect to be led around on a 'school trip' by a government guide. The rich expect to be able to do whatever they want and go wherever they want. And unlike ordinary tourists, who spend money all over the place, in ordinary shops, at tourist venues, at hotels and AirBnBs, spreading the cash around, rich people are selective where they spend cash: high end (often international brand) stores, 5 star hotels and large villas. They don't mix with ordinary people if they can help it.

-8 ( +15 / -23 )

Tempted to read this article whilst listening to the Benny Hill theme.... Because this entire affair is a damn circus!

SO TRUE!

Japan is no longer a tourist destination. The internet made Japan accessible to tourism generating $44bn pa in revenue. The government have now ended that. South Korea is replacing it. Wealthy people don't expect to be led around on a 'school trip' by a government guide.

exactly. the sad thing is that neither the gov nor the people here actually realize the damage to Japan's reputation yet. They just don't get it. And they don't get the fact that SK is replacing Japan as a destination in Asia.

-11 ( +11 / -22 )

 the announcement last week that travelers coming to Japan will no longer be required to take pre-departure COVID tests is being seen as another positive development by the tourism industry. 

Only for the triple vaccinated and still need to apply for a visa and book a tour package through a travel agency. If you write an article on an issue get the details right.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

For rich people getting out into the Japanese country side would be like a safari. Is the government really sure it wants these people to see the poverty?

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

those travelers spend the majority of their trip in large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, 

well…..that’s what happens when you only promote Osaka and Tokyo. As well as only allowing international flights INTO Osaka and Tokyo.

Do they really think the average rich traveler even knows any city in Japan outside of those two, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hokkaido and Okinawa?

no.

And what rich person is going to spend money on a Japanese inn, somewhere in Shikoku or Miyazaki just to sip on some tea in a yukata?

not happening.

Japanese government wants to encourage wealthy foreigners

these morons just don’t get it. Sure wealthy foreigners spending money would be nice, but you wanna get the small time average joe and the young college/20 years olds to come in as well.

THEY are the ones that will journey into the boonies and look for something different. Not the general Karen and Kevin.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

The audacity, and without shame, too.

Good article here-well written and spot on:

https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Japan-is-wasting-its-big-chance-with-group-tour-requirement

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

new program specifically aimed at attracting wealthy foreign tourists and encouraging them to visit parts of Japan they’ve previously overlooked."

With UNESCO Heritage sites in pretty much every backwater now, they sure will have some sugoooi sights to marvel at, just don,t look at the crumbling inaka all around them.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

What a joke. Totally tone deaf to reality.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

As long as they're not loud and obnoxious.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

those travelers spend the majority of their trip in large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, 

well…..that’s what happens when you only promote Osaka and Tokyo.

Spot on, and this doesnt happen to tourists alone.

The whole Japan wants to move to Tokyo because they think they are missing something out after being bombarded with Tokyo news every single day.

Advice for fellow foreigners living in their beautiful japanese capitals: apart of Skytree, Rainbow Bridge, Scramble crossing etc. there is nothing really special about Tokyo. Better just visit occasionally and stay in your city with your friends and community, enjoying all the space we barely have here.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Japan has no idea how to market itself outside of Tokyo which is mostly done by anyone outside of Japan. Even their various “cool Japan” gigs showed a complete misunderstanding of what people outside of the country would be interested in.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Advice for fellow foreigners living in their beautiful japanese capitals: apart of Skytree, Rainbow Bridge, Scramble crossing etc. there is nothing really special about Tokyo.

There are a lot of special things in Tokyo, you just managed to not list any of them there!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Good article here-well written and spot on:

https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Japan-is-wasting-its-big-chance-with-group-tour-requirement

I'm actually quite surprised that Alex Kerr would write such a scathing article on Japan's policies as he's always seen as an apologist for everything wrong here. But you know things are bad when Kerr himself is critical of Japan's policy.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

What a terribly queer decision, are they living in pre colonial times? Make the place welcoming for all and all will visit. Too many meetings and talks going on as usual between ghastly old dinosaurs who are totally out of touch with the reality of living in 2022.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I'm actually quite surprised that Alex Kerr would write such a scathing article on Japan's policies as he's always seen as an apologist for everything wrong here. But you know things are bad when Kerr himself is critical of Japan's policy.

I thought the same, @Aly.

He's hit the nail on the head, however.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

If I was rich...xD I'd go to Otaru and maybe Ehime. and maybe somewhere Saitama, no more. no more xDDD

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let's make a list:

No English or basically any other languages signs, directions or services.

Rooms often "No Gaijin" except the major chain hotels and not very nice ones!

If you find a place the charge is per person not room making it even less appealing especially when I food included has not choice in most cases.

Even the transportation will have little or no services other than in Japanese.

The fear of foreigner will lead to a lot of places going " no Gaijin" leading to a false view of Racism instead of the fact they are just frightened.

Etc

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

I donno..but think anyone who think can replace the destination for your holiday tour from Japan to South Korea because of lousy restrictions, what is the fuss? Just do it. You enjoy South Korea but not Japan.

Eat Kimchi and feel Asia.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The block on ordinary tourism frustrated and is now alienating the army of Westerners who did a better job of advertising Japan than any government department or tourist company did. As a result of the block, Japan has vanished from the tourist map.

Perhaps the Japanese government don't need any help to sell rural Japan as the new Dubai.

Still, there are benefits. SK should be a lot nicer to Japan over historical issues, as the government has gifted them an absolute tonne of cash by handing over their tourist industry on a plate.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

It been that long the business that catered to foreign speaking staff. Would let them go. It will take years for Japanese that can speak foreign tongues to be replace. Because these skilled workers with better paying job now. If these rich tourist are looking to have top quality service will get a surprise by the lack of communication.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

“ Those protocols are gradually being relaxed, though, and the … “

– another way of saying “*extremely slow**”*;

..

Japan is not what it used to be (a mysterious land full of secrets, leaving millions blinded by its charm and unique culture, with much to learn and discover; its attractiveness was hard to explain) – Japan has changed and today the world looks at Japan in a different way.

*The J-Government forgot that people are not fools; the world is smaller: social media and the Internet gave people different kinds of power; one of them is the power to choose.*

..

“ That said, an increase in promotional efforts aimed at one demographic doesn’t necessarily mean less promotion for other demographics, so hopefully the Japan Tourism Agency won’t forget about travelers who aren’t going to be spending a million yen on their trip. “

; you can’t expect too much from the JTA and J-Gov; the answer is: they will not forget, but they also do not care.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Yes, rural Japan is dying. I explored the beautiful Noto Peninsula over the summer and saw part of Japan few Japanese even bother to visit. Its actually the cost of travel and the fact that Japanese have a lot less time to travel than ever before that tourism is dying. Foreigners too don't have much interest in renting a car and taking the expensive Expressways. For the time being, just drink more alcohol.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Rich people like freedom, they certainly don't like the confines of a tour group, with it's generic predetermined itinerary.

Should be pretty obvious, I'm not some type of genius here... Maybe the government don't really care about tourism industry, they only care about appearing to care.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

 Japan Tourism Agency will be selecting 10 other sightseeing areas of Japan to promote to wealthy foreign travelers in an effort to revitalize those local economies,

At the end of the day, people spending big bucks in Japan are probably coming here with the objective to see and do things in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, for example.

The opportunity to arrive in Japan and travel even further or to some more obscure place, where in the end, there is ramen served that is no different from that in Tokyo, a temple/old building no different than that is found in Kyoto, or a "unique" streetfood that is really just a slight twist on that which is found in Osaka ("this sauce has lemon juice in it!), probably won't be a big sell.

But good luck to JTA!

And in the meantime, get some travel discounts going again for local residents. There's lots of wealthy foreigners already in the country. Give me a reason to visit Tohoku, like, a half price ticket.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

On the bright side, the longer they take, the weaker the yen becomes. Since closing the border at best its an extra 40 yen to the pound, a whopping 25% cheaper......so those fancy places will be begging the tourists to go in and spend that hard earned additional money....

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I don't think "wealthy foreigners" would be as interested in "deeper" or more "boring" parts of Japan as much as the average traveler with only Y500,000 yen to spend on his or her vacation for the weekend would be. Japan is really making itself look bad since it's COVID recovering efforts by targeting only wealthy and the elite further proving how clueless and superficial the government really is about showing a sincere interest in learning, sharing and cooperating with outside countries. Money isn't everything, especially if all we'll get in return is a cup of expensive tea and some senbei while being chaperoned as if we were still in high school. Japan, I know it's hard, and I know you're holding onto thousands of years of heritage and culture but you've got to make some steps towards progression and adapt to current ideologies of the world. Accept all who want to come because I don't see a lot of rich people on YouTube bragging about what such a lovely time they've had here. I just see people like me, the other commenters on this website and millions of other regular people showing their appreciation for the good times that they USED to have here. It's the little people that count. We're the ones spending the most, bringing our friends and family and returning time after time, before COVID, that is. Now, we're just going to South Korea, the Philippines, Africa because they'll take anybody, and it's cheaper!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So what's in it for the wealthy tourists?

They claim they'll use wealthy tourists to direct them to less popular areas to revive those economies, but why would the wealthy tourists even care about that?

Clearly this is just for Japan's own interest...

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I would focus the marketing efforts on glamping trips in NIseko, the Fuji five lakes, the Oki Islands and Okinawa beaches/diving.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We've been to Japan 4 times over the years as independent travellers and have absolutely no interest in joining a tour group to visit Japan we couldn't think of anything worse being dragged from place to place.

When we can finally visit we plan in visiting Nagoya, Hikone, Okayama, Hiroshima, Wakayama flying in and out of Osaka. We normally spend somewhere around Y600,000 in Japan excluding flights.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

All I want to do is visit my friends in Japan. I've got a fair few dotted around all over Japan and each time I go, they are very willing and capable of showing me around.

I've spent over 3 months in Japan across my four previous trips and would do another trip tomorrow if I were allowed.

I've done all the obvious stuff in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Sure there's a whole bunch of other stuff that would keep me entertained in the big cities for months but it is time I saw some of the countryside, pop up to Hokkaido for a beer festival, go surfing in Okinawa, climb Fujisan, go to Fuji Rock Festival, etc.,

Visiting Japan is not all about temples, onsens and wagyu.

Just let me buy a rail pass and a month and I promise you I'll spend 10x more than I ever could being shunted around like a sheep in a coach for a week.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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