Enjoy my Japan: Laser focus on Western visitors for Tokyo 2020 goals

Leading up to Tokyo 2020, Japan has to reduce the imbalance in tourism numbers and also grow inbound tourism from 28.7 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2020. The question is, how? Source: Shutterstock.

JAPAN may have succeeded in exponentially growing inbound tourism from Asia in recent years, but there’s still a huge imbalance in the numbers.

Last year, the country saw a record-breaking surge in inbound tourism, welcoming 28.7 million foreign visitors, an increase of 19.3 percent from 2016. But only 11 percent of Japan’s inbound tourism consists of long-haul markets including Europe, North America and Australia.

Asians make up for a large percentage of international travelers, and it’s easy to weigh out the logic.

In 2014, the Japanese government declared that visitors from Malaysia and Thailand no longer needed a visa to visit Japan. A year later, it was announced that Chinese citizens above a certain income level can obtain five-year visas with no restrictions on where they can visit. On top of the easy math of logistics and proximity as compared to Western countries, the relaxed visa restrictions contributed to the increase in tourists from Asia.

However, leading up to 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo aka Tokyo 2020, Japan has to reduce the imbalance significantly to become a “tourism-oriented country”. Japan has also set a target to grow inbound tourism from 28.7 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2020. The question is, how?

Enter, “Enjoy my Japan“.

Enjoy my Japan” is the Japan National Tourism Organization’s (JNTO) new multilingual promotional campaign that highlights the country’s lesser-known attractions and its rich nature and culture that exist off the beaten tourist path.

The global-scale campaign is being supplemented by strategically targeted digital advertisements and television commercials to be aired in multiple markets – especially Europe, North America, and Australia.

It’s a major addition to efforts made in recent years by both public and private sectors in Japan to attract more visitors from overseas.

According to McKinsey’s The Future of Japan’s Tourism: Path for Sustainable Growth towards 2020 report, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka get the bulk of international tourism, and the accommodations and infrastructure of those major Japanese cities are already stretched thin.

To add on, demand simulations for 2020 indicate that the country may face up to a 50 percent shortage in accommodation in those cities and up to 30 percent overflow in air capacity for Tokyo’s ultra-busy Haneda and Narita airports.

In the interest of lessening capacity constraints, the campaign aims to attract visitors to locations outside of the aforementioned cities and promote crowd distribution, which in turn will revitalize Japan’s less-populous regions.

In constructing and honing the focus of the campaign, avid travelers were surveyed to identify the things they find most alluring when choosing a destination abroad.

Survey results revealed a series of commonly recurring “passion points” that make up a satisfying trip. In turn, these were categorized and compiled into a list of locations and experiences designed to fulfill a traveler’s passions – cuisine, tradition, nature, city, relaxation, art, and outdoor.

And a series of brief video clips were produced to bring them all to life.

Mount Fuji at Shimoyoshida Japan. Source: Shutterstock

“One’s personal engagement with Japan starts at the website,” JNTO president Ryoichi Matsuyama said.

“It continues with enriching experiences like summer and winter adventure sports, spring and autumn mountain treks and steam train rides, and seaside cycling excursions. Any time of year, Japan offers fine dining and mouthwatering street fare, vibrant nightlife in safe and spectacular cities, virtually unlimited shopping and entertainment options, exposure to ancient traditions that still exist side-by-side with emerging pop cultural trends, and physical and spiritual rejuvenation at remote hot springs, spas, and Zen Buddhist retreats.”

Website visitors can create their own “virtual tour” of Japan by answering a few questions about their interests (“Would you rather see tradition or feel it?”, “Would you prefer gourmet food or local fare?”) which will generate a “personalized movie” with scenes that show what types of sites and experiences Japan has to offer.

Visitors will then be given the option of downloading their movie or sharing it with friends and followers on social media – or both.

Enjoy my Japan” also includes components of interactions between international travelers and the Japanese people themselves, thus motivating the country’s citizens to welcome tourists from abroad with open arms.

JNTO is supporting the unveiling of the “Enjoy my Japan” website with campaign events in Tokyo as well as in key global cities such as London, Berlin, Paris, Sydney and New York.