Tour and travel industry analysts who cover Japan have essentially written off the country as any kind of a meaningful or active market for 2020. While other major overseas source markets for inbound travel to the United State have a similar outlook, due to the impact of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic, the hurt is especially unsettling to the industry in Japan.
A major reason for the disappointment lay in the fact that the travel trade in Japan—it is the second largest overseas source market for inbound tourism, behind only the UK—had been looking forward to a banner year, with tour operators and travel agencies anticipating healthy levels of both outbound and inbound travel. Driving the optimism was the expected boost in overall travel that was expected to come with the staging of the quadrennial Olympic Games, which were scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9 this year in Tokyo. Last March, however, as the coronavirus spread throughout the world, the games were postponed for a year. They are now scheduled to take place July 23-August 8, 2021 in Tokyo.
The coronavirus disruption in Japan and in other key source markets has been total, with year-on-year arrivals figures dropping by nearly 100 percent in some cases.
In the wake of such developments, little notice was given or received when the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) recently posted market profiles for top-producing countries, including Japan. At first glance, little seems to have changed in the outlook for visits to the United States by Japanese travelers.
Much of the activity recorded in the NTTO profile for Japan shows that it has been a steady and reliable source of visitor traffic for the past decade and is expected to continue to be so through 2024, according to NTTO’s long-term forecast, which was published last October. Underscoring the importance of the NTTO market profile for Japan is the fact that another major reliable source of analysis for the travel trade in Japan—the quarterly report of the Japan Association of Travel Agents—has not been issued a report since last December.
So, the NTTO market profile becomes especially significant and useful, since the report, which is for 2019 becomes, in effect, the only benchmark analysis of Japanese travel and travelers to the United States.
In it, the reader will find reliable assurances regarding the favorite U.S. destinations of Japanese travelers: Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. One will also see that shopping and sightseeing comprise the favorite activities of Japanese travelers. As well, the market profile shows that a majority of Japanese travelers to the U.S. rely on travel agents—both online and offline.
Indeed, there are differences in some of the material listed below, which INBOUND has fashioned into tables. These differences are subtle, but U.S. travel suppliers will probably be able to detect them and, in doing so, make it worth the effort to do business with, for what has been—and likely will be for at least several years out—the second largest overseas source market for the U.S. inbound tourism industry.
Multiple responses, % of profiled inbound
Notes on NTTO material: Only country and world region destinations having a sample size consistently of 100 or more are displayed. Visitation incidence was rounded to two decimal places in NTTO source files beginning in 2014 to reduce artificial ‘jumpiness’ in the data caused by rounding to only one decimal places, especially for destinations having incidence of less than two percentage points. Due to quarterly data weighting by country and port of entry, some unreported destinations may have a higher proportion of total than those reported.
For additional information, visit https://travel.trade.gov/