Speaking at the annual Tourism Expo on 20 September, hosted by the Japan Travel and Tourism Association (JTTA), Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) and the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara applauded the Japanese Travel & Tourism sector on returning to business-as-usual so soon after Typhoon Jebi and the subsequent Hokkaido earthquake.
Typhoon Jebi and the Hokkaido earthquake caused great upheaval in early September, leaving tourists temporarily stranded as power outages disrupted day-to-day operations across the country.
Gloria Guevara commented, “The recovery process undertaken in Japan over recent weeks has been truly exemplary. Japan has minimised disaster damage through implementation of crisis preparedness measures and existing infrastructures that allowed authorities and services to return to business-as-usual more readily.”
Rapid recovery time is crucial to national economies given the importance of Travel & Tourism in providing jobs, investments and opportunities for economic growth. This is particularly true in Japan where the sector supports 4.2 million jobs (6.4%) and contributes 6.8% to GDP ($331.2bn). Last year, 28.3m visitors holidayed in or travelled to Japan, spending $35.3bn (4.1% of total exports).
While at the annual Tourism Expo, Ms. Guevara also commended Japan’s Travel & Tourism broader strategy, as codified in their ‘Tourism Vision Realisation Program’ in June 2018. The Program outlines plans for relaxing visa restrictions, developing public facilities, and introducing facial recognition technology to airports.
Such plans aim to sustain Japan’s place as a global tourism heavyweight. Japan’s Travel & Tourism sector is great and growing, currently positioned as the 4th largest T&T economy in the world. In terms of foreign visitor spending, Japan is second only to China.
Ms. Guevara remarked, “Japan has been at the helm of a unique and immensely successful tourism boom over the last five years, averaging a growth rate of 25.3% per year between 2013 and 2017. This record highlights the opportunities available to governments that plan for travel growth and embrace tourism-friendly policies.
“I am confident in Japan’s future as they have continuously demonstrated initiative to maximize the opportunities for growth in Travel & Tourism. With the Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics and G20 Summit in their midst, Japan has a real opportunity to attract even more visitors and investment, and WTTC supports the Japanese government in their target of 40 million international tourist arrivals by 2020.”