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Japan is looking to increase the number of annual tourists to 20 million by 2020. What suggestions do you have for this to happen?

33 Comments

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Hotel rates to be charged for a room only and not doubled if two people share it.

One price air fares. Don't tell me it is X when if I want to take luggage or have a meal it becomes Y or Z.

Quicker processing at Narita airport. Some of those queues in the foreigner line are horrendous.

The picture's or (the fantastic) copies of the meals in the window help but for a lot of visitors a bi-lingual menu would be a bonus.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Move the US bases out of Okinawa and build theme parks, hotels and tourist facilities. This would create 100,000s of thousands of jobs and boom the economy.

Okinawa is perfect for tourism. It's already doing well. It could easily become the number one spot in Japan for tourism. Many people speak English here and are used to dealing with foreigners.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Another thing, make bars and eateries smoke free. I know it sounds radical but you may be surprised how quickly some countries that went down this path quickly accepted it. Impossible they could ever go back to what it was.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Try putting the ever-changing Estimated Time of Arrival and Departure information that's overhead at all train station platforms in English. It would work wonders. Add to that online and printed maps in English. And go the extra mile by telling all hotels in Japan that they should have an English-language website.

You can forget about trying to teach Japanese people to speak English, if you provide English at the most important information sources - rail station platforms, online maps and hotel websites. It's a no-brainer to this yearly visitor who, thank heaven, learned to do without that kind of information. But if Japan is serious about doubling its tourist visits by the time the Olympics roll into town, it better get serious about signage and directions.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@SimondB - Yeah those hotel rates per person seriously annoy me, I definitely think that will be a talking point issue come 2020

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I think the biggest obstacle people have to coming to Japan is the perception that it's horribly expensive.

It would be good to emphasize that it is certainly possible to travel for the same costs if not cheaper than other developed countries. I know before I visited the first time I was expecting $200+ a night for hotels, $10 cups of coffee, etc.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Pandabelle, you are right on. If the visitor from abroad understood how to get accommodation and food without the high price-tags, they'd be eager to come. had the good fortune to have Toyoko Inn Hotel chain recommended to my by a Japanese expat. Best advice I ever got.

Their websites are in multiple languages (including English), super easy to navigate, and their amenities excellent. In the newer ones there are computers in the lobby which provide information on local eateries, sight-seeing, and things you might enjoy--again, in multiple languages. (Breakfast--Eastern and Western) included for a very reasonable price. Others in the hospitality industry need to compete with that. There is no need to waste hundreds a night on rooms in which to close your eyes and sleep.

The JR Rail Pass is fabulous, too. You can criss-cross the country for one set price.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Continue destroying the value of the yen, as they are already doing. It's painful for almost everyone, but we must make sacrifices if we are to attract hordes of budget tourists. I would write more, but I have to rush out and greet a Chinese cruise ship with my kids. We juggle for coins.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Merge the Metro and Toei subway lines so people can change trains without being forced to pay double.

If they can't make first-time issue of Suika and PASMO cards free from the get-go, then offer either substantial discounts for short-term visitors or a cash rebate when leaving the country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If they can't make first-time issue of Suika and PASMO cards free from the get-go, then offer either substantial discounts for short-term visitors or a cash rebate when leaving the country

You do get a cash rebate when leaving the country. Give your card back and you get your Suica deposit back.

Bringing up the Tokyo Metro/Toei thing - it should be emphasized to visitors how wonderful a value the all day merged pass is. All Tokyo Metro, all Toei lines, all day, 1000 yen. So cheap.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Nickel and diming at tourist resorts. I've been places where you must pay a rental fee to sit on a bench!

I've got a long list of experiences, but here's one more: At Hakone, I wanted to try a black egg boiled in the natural sulphur spring. I was told to buy a bag of 5, as they refused to sell single eggs or any amount smaller. Seems a small gripe, but when your entire journey is marked by continous gouging, it adds up, both financially and psychologically.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I was told to buy a bag of 5, as they refused to sell single eggs or any amount smaller.

Do you complain when the convenience store doesn't take a slice of bread out of the bag and sell it to you individually, too?

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

"Do you complain when the convenience store doesn't take a slice of bread out of the bag and sell it to you individually, too?"

Yeah, I would if were being sold as a snack, as the eggs were. Would you eat an entire loaf of bread as a snack in one sitting? This was a service counter on top of mountain, not a supermarket. LOL.

Anyway, eating 5 sulphur egg would have left me...errrr.. in great need of Ex-Lax. (Double LOL.)

3 ( +5 / -2 )

legalize dope in conjunction with a month long cosplay festival and and it's still one in a million.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

SimondB & dcog9065: When I was a travel agent in the US, many of my Japanese friends living here in Japan would e-mail me to make them hotel reservations for rooms in Japan because the computer reservation systems we used were not set up for making hotel reservations based on the number of people in the room. That may have changed since then (that was 2007), but I could often save them 1/3 to 1/2 of the room rate (some hotels charged higher rates than in Japan which is why it wasn't always 1/2 the rate.) However, if my friends insisted on two twin beds instead of one double, the rate wasn't always cheaper.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Easing visa requirements (and perhaps providing spittoons?) for citizens of our larger neighbor would do it.

But please, please, please do something about the godawful, irrational signage in stations. Even the information in Japanese makes the warrens (that many stations are) barely navigable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan is a Xenophobic country, I think a lot people know that so Encourage intergration, teach it in school and at home and let the whole world know about it 6 years to go a wall is built brick by brick

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@GarapogasnoGaraishu

Merge the Metro and Toei subway lines so people can change trains without being forced to pay double.

THIS! It will be mayhem at stations with tourists confused by the multitude of maps & differentiated prices. There are often ticket machines with two or more different maps above them - one for each rail company. The prices are all different, and the companies never work together to make it easier for commuters. Take for example, Tokyo Station. There are massive signs everywhere for JR lines but, heaven forbid, someone wanted to use the subway (note the sarcasm), it's a tiny sign at Yaesu Central exit - and a seriously long walk down a labyrinth of underpasses. This will NOT work in the Olympics.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some high schools have eliminated the listening portion of mid-term and end of term English exams. When asked, I was told that the students did not need "listening skills because they were not college bound." Interesting to note that if foreign workers come to Japan, many of them will be working alongside Japanese laborers from Japanese schools that did not provide listening or speaking skills in English. They are graded only on writing the letter from the multiple choice questions. On the other hand, other schools are being groomed for producing better English speakers with more classes with more skills. I think it should be mandatory that students have rudimentory English ability to graduate whether or not they intend to go onto higher academic levels.

Some train stations have excellent bilingual maps and train line explanations. I was really impressed. At other stations, I see tourists send people run up and down the stairs to confirm what platform they are to be on only to have them get to another platform but come back because trains have been suddenly rerouted. No announcements in English. Like a cartoon. Pretty funny to watch but not fun to experience!

Buses!! I won't even touch that subject with some boarding at the back, paying as you get off, and others paying a flat fee when boarding from the front!

Just some random ideas. I like the idea of cheaper flights to Okinawa also from major airports.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Encourage people to say hello or smile at a foreigners rather than look at the ground or snap away to a brick wall. Foreigners are people they are not monsters. Their needs to be a basic and fundamental change of attitude towards foreigners. It will take a long time but it starts with educating children. Japanese children need to be taught to respect foreigners and take an interest in the outside world and realise that they are not necessarily superior by nature. Every culture has it s strengths and weaknesses. Encourage children to look beyond their local machi. The majority of tourists are looking for a vibrant, animated, cosmopolitan ambience with some even looking for sensual pleasure which is highly illegal in the country with the biggest porn industry in the world. Open up, loosen up and relax. Not everyone is looking to learn the tea ceremony or the way of Samurai. Most just want to have fun as well learn about Japan.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

In most of the tourist spots visited by me display boards are in Japanese language only. Though the local people are friendly and eager to help me they could not speak even minimum English which is international language. There is no tourist guide books or maps in English.They must be made available to international tourists .More sign boards along the main streets, and boards upon the buses in English indicating the routes will greatly help foreigners.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I would ask the Japanese people if they want to see hordes of mainly Chinese and SE Asian tourists next to them in the restaurant or onsen when they are trying to relax.....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

definitely signing in the stations needs bettering, even native or near native Japanese get lost in Ikebukuro or other big stations because the signing is totally demented [like you find the right sign that sends you in one direction then suddenly no other sign tells you where to go halfway, and you have to ask a human.] for some reason I do have very low expectations though (Y_Y)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

To align Japan with the rest of the planet, how about putting in street names and numbers, so that people can find their way around?

NOBODY understands the "chome/banchi" system.

A taxi driver pulled up and asked me where Fukuzawa 3-chome was! Me, a goijin!

And when we moved to Okinawa, I had phone calls from a removal company, and two delivery companies asking where our apartment was.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Bertie Wooster is on to something. The locals speak English, they are happy easy going amiable, likable people with a island mentality and yes lots of them do speak English. If I wasnt already stuck here in Kyushu industrial heartland I would go to Okinawa. Snakes and all. Pretty dark girls. Best food.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Devalue the still mighty yen ( compared to what it was just a couple of decades ago ) some more.

"Okinawa is perfect for tourism. It's already doing well."

That's because the bases you hate so much, Bertie, have helped keep Japan out of trouble for the past 70 years, allowing tourism to flourish.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Can't smash the like button enough for some of the comments here. Most of the tourist areas are already pretty well-equipped for taking on travelers. Especially in Tokyo there is plenty of English information to get where you need to go, and getting around/settled in is pretty smooth....with a few glaring problems.

As said:

-The street/address system is archaic, at best. For whatever reason, my neighbors and I have the exact same address; like it was originally 1 farm that broke up. Occasionally a package is sent with no name to our address and we have to open it together as a community then puzzle over who it was intended for.... For travelers without a GPS it can be really confusing to find places (department stores, etc)

-The per-person charge for hotel rooms. This only encourages traveler groups to take up as many rooms as possible. Additional charges should be minimal (mostly covering things like meals)

Additionally:

-The naming system is silly.

More common sense should be used when it comes to this. If my passport says Smith John and my credit card John Smith, there should really be no reason for needing to confirm my name.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Do we really want 20 million tourists?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

When tourist information, etc is provided in English, provide more than just the stereotypical shallow stuff. No, I don't care about the department stores, or how many floors the Yamada Denki in Akihabara has. Get a little deeper than tissue paper depth on the information provided. That does not mean Japan has four distinct seasons, by the way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is no doubt that the Japanese language is offputting for many potential visitors, so the solution is to have ALL signage also in English.

I don't just mean in airports and railway/metro stations, but also in the streets, on all bar/restaurant food/drinks menus, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Steve Crichton,

The snakes are not a problem unless you go trekking across wild country a lot.

And, as you say, the people are very friendly and the food is great.

The only problem is the US bases. They take up too much space.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Vagina Kyakfest with the Festival of the Steel Phallus at Kanayama Shrine and double our debauchery!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Many have already said these, but: (1) Work on the genuine non-smoking sections in restaurants, (2) Improve your foreign language skills and signs in: (English, Mandarin, Korean, French, Thai and Indonesian), (3) Make wi-fi more available and (4) Try offering free/cheap transit tours of Tokyo/ Chiba from Haneda and Narita Airports; offer transit tours of Osaka/ Kobe from the Kansai Airport. South Korea does this last point and it works!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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