Also Announces Initiative to Increase Outbound Travel
Perhaps it’s related to the American expression, “thinking out loud,” but Hitomi Tagawa, the former CEO of JTB and now the chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) used “Hitorigoto” in Japanese—it means “murmuring to oneself”—to describe a message in which he urged fellow Japanese, including travel professionals, to take time off and relax.
“The phrase ‘holiday reinvention’ has been circulated a lot lately, yet, as somebody from the industry, I wonder if the people in this field can take time off to spend on relaxation,” said Tagawa in part of a recently circulated, wide-ranging report to the Japanese travel trade. “We need to think about the way we spend our time off, the way we relax our body and spirit. It seems that the Japanese are not very good at this.”
He continued: “Taking long holidays helps cleanse both the body and the mind. Rather than ‘using the holidays given to us’ we need to take the holidays and relax ourselves. It is important to feel the four seasons, to experience life and the environment with our five senses,” adding, “We the Japanese and the travel industry professionals in particular need to re-establish the meaning of ‘taking time off,’ to become better at ‘relaxing’ in order to become better able to convey our message.”
New Group Aims to Boost Japanese Outbound Traveler Count to 20 Million a Year: According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), 17,116,200 Japanese traveled overseas in 2016—a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. The number topped the 17-million mark for the first time since 2013. With the exception of April 2016, when the number decreased by 2.3 percent, every month saw an increase on year-on-year basis, with August and November marking the highest increases of 10 percent and 10.5 percent respectively.
Tagawa used the occasion of the good news on outbound numbers to announce that JATA is launch a new initiative in an efforts to achieve 20 million overseas travelers and a greater volume of handled tours by its members in 2018.
Operating under the aegis of the Japan Outbound Tourism Council, the effort comprises JATA member companies, airlines, national tourism offices, embassies, tour-operators and other travel-related organizations. The council will work to “facilitate the exchange of the newest travel information, expand the number of package tours handled by travel agencies, discover and promote new travel attractions in overseas tourist destinations.”