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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tourin'

Japan Today has an article today on the challenges and opportunities facing the Japanese tourism industry ("Asian tourists mean cash" http://www.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/asian-tourists-mean-cash):

"Earlier this year, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) 国際観光振興機構 announced that the number of foreign tourists traveling to Japan plummeted 18.7% from 2008 to just 6.79 million people in 2009. This was the largest decrease in tourists since 1986 when the yen suddenly appreciated by almost 100%. Needless to say, the tourists stayed away at that time simply because everything became so darned expensive. This time around, the tourists are staying away because of the global financial meltdown and it wasn’t just Japan that was affected. Pretty much every tourist destination saw similar double-digit drops. However, whatever the reason, the fact is that the government is extremely unlikely to hit its 10 million visitors by 2010 target this year, and indeed a bad economy is not the only reason. There needs to be an awakening both at government level and commercially that tourism is a potentially massive industry for Japan and that investment is needed to help things along."

I'm going to do my part at the end of next month, when I'll be in Japan for a week, visiting Kumamoto 熊本, Aso 阿蘇, Takachiho 高千穂, Usuki 臼杵 and Beppu 別府. But the article ignores my past (and future) contributions, and instead focuses on the importance of Asian visitors to Japan's tourism industry, especially that of individual free-spending travelers from Hong Kong. Seeing as this is a Taiwan-based blog, however, here are the sections of the article referring to Taiwanese travelers. After pointing out that visitors from Taiwan make up the third major grouping of tourists to Japan (at 1.02 million), the story notes that:

"...the most prevalent repeat travelers are from Hong Kong and Taiwan...The number of repeat visitors from Taiwan was 72.1% and 73.6% of them were tourists."

Not much, but it does give an idea of the numbers of Taiwanese who choose to spend their vacations in Japan, and who do so more than once. Even around ten years ago, when I was living in Ikebukuro 池袋, there was a significant Taiwanese presence in the area. I can only imagine what it must be like now.



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