In his latest monthly “hitorigoto” (a monologue to one’s self), Hiromi Tagawa, chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) and former president and CEO of JTB sketched out a profile of the country’s outbound travel activity. While hard data were scant, Tagawa reported the following:
- The percentage of travelers comprising leisure overseas travelers in 2016 stayed at 13.6 percent, showing no significant fluctuations since 2014.
- For a third consecutive year, Taiwan ranked No 1 as the most preferred overseas destination, while Hawaii was No 2 followed by South Korea.
- Taiwan was the favorite of family, couples, friends, solo, and child-parent pair travelers.
- The destinations which travelers enjoyed best were Western Europe, followed by Eastern Europe. Five out of the ten most desired destinations were European countries and regions (Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Germany, Italy and Northern Europe in descending order).
- Among the ten most desired destinations were also the USA West Coast, Hawaii (Oahu), Hawaii (other than Oahu), and the USA East Coast (in descending order).
- For 2017, Hawaii (Oahu) is expected to be the most preferred destination, followed by Taiwan and South Korea.
- The number of overseas travelers is expected to grow by 7 percent to 8 percent in 2017.
- For a tenth successive year, Italy will keep its rank as the most desired destination for travel in the immediate future. France is expected to improve its position compared to 2014 and move up a rank higher.
- In the category “Destinations which travelers would like to visit in the future,” Hawaii ranked the highest, Italy came in second and Australia was third. France lost its second place, getting down to No 4.
JTB to Use 2020 Olympics to Help Make it Global Travel Brand: Meanwhile, Tagawa’s successor as president and CEO of JTB, Hiroyuki Takahashi, said in a statement posted on the company’s website that, “In order to realize long-term and stable growth in the future, the JTB Group has renewed its resolve … of establishing an overwhelming No.1 position in the Asian market.”
But the company is not stopping in Asia, he added, asserting that “moving forward, we will engage in full-fledged development of our business model, from one that has until now considered human interactions predominantly in terms of outbound travel from Japan, to a model that is global in outlook, with a focus on Asia. We aim to create a global brand that will provide perfect moments and happiness to all our customers around the world.”
Takahashi also noted that, since Tokyo has been chosen as the host of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, “the world’s attention is focused on Japan’s unique culture, products, and services, and the number of foreign visitors to Japan is increasing dramatically. Through our global businesses, we look forward to helping achieve Japan’s goal of establishing itself as a tourism-oriented country and contributing to the development of the tourism industry.”