Japan: a tourism success story
Tuesday 19 Jun 2018
In 1995 Japan welcomed 3.3 million overseas visitors, making it the 34th most-visited nation on the planet behind places like Bulgaria and the Ukraine. By 2017, that number had risen to an astonishing 28.7 million. That’s an increase of more than 769% in just over two decades. Australians are leading the charge. Japan is the eighth most popular destination for local travellers with more than 400,000 of us visiting each year. That’s up from just 148,000 in 2008, a jump of more than 280%.
Few countries can claim these kind of impressive growth figures. They become even more remarkable when you consider the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in 2011, presenting an obvious obstacle to tourism. Japan is an incredible tourism success story, growing their market across all sectors and with a strong focus on luxury.
So what has made Japan so appealing to the modern traveller? New findings from the Mitsubishi Research Institute (MRI) suggest that Japan’s difference is its strength. Both industry professionals and travellers emphasise Japan’s striking difference from Western countries in things like culture, food, fashion and technology. Traditional accommodation options like ryokans give travellers a fascinating glimpse into a different way of life. Luxury travellers will be able to appreciate these differences not only in the overall impression, but also in crucial details like service and quality.
This new research from MRI is the first attempt to capture information about the Western luxury travel market. Luxury travellers have never specifically been targeted in Japanese travel marketing and this research could ultimately assist in building a new strategy.
The research also looks at the concept of a luxury traveller in a new way. They are categorised not by their assets, as with most studies of this kind, but by how much they spend on travel (in this case, more than JPY1 million per trip excluding airfare). This highlights the fact that there are many ways to think about the luxury traveller and that setting a baseline of a specific level of personal wealth may not be the best. The report highlights ‘selective luxury travellers’ as a category, covering people who only invest heavily in aspects of travel that have meaning to them. For example, a selective luxury traveller may choose to fly economy as the indulgence of business or first class is not important to them. They may instead spend this money on a unique cultural experience, Michelin-starred meal or guided trek.
PC: Japan National Toursim Organization