THE Japan National Tourism Organization announced this year an ambitious target of hitting 40 million annual inbound tourists by 2020.
To prepare for the 2020 Olympics, the government said it will target ¥8 trillion (USD$80 billion) in spending by overseas visitors by 2020 — more than double last year’s record of ¥3.48 trillion (about US$30 billion).
At the recent Asian Tourism Leaders’ Forum in Tokyo, it was revealed that Japan will focus on sports tourism ahead of major sporting events in the coming years such as the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
Besides that, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is set to test a system allowing travelers to make payments at popular tourist spots using only their fingerprints.
To use the service, travelers are required to register their fingerprints and credit card details in advance to make cashless payments for dinner, accommodation, and other services.
The ministry added that tourists will get information and a transportation guide sent to their smartphones in a pre-registered language. The project will target overseas visitors, and is a step towards developing the nation’s tourism services.
However, The Japan Times reported that there are gaps in regional tourism infrastructure, including a lack of electronic payment services, and a lack of information on foreign tourists such as shopping and eating preferences.
Japan made news last week after a train conductor blamed the large number of foreign tourists for Tokyo’s overcrowded trains.
“There are many foreign passengers on board today… this has caused serious congestion and is causing inconvenience to Japanese passengers,” said the conductor.
The conductor was reprimanded by the railway company after the public outburst. The Guardian reported that the outburst would have done little for Japan’s attempts to become a more welcoming destination for foreign visitors.