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Japan steps up inbound efforts but faces challenges in catering to foreign tourists.
Monday, 26th May 2014
Source : Web in Travel
The third WIT Japan opened last week to the personal welcome of a Prime Minister and the beating of drums, heralding what many believe is the rise of a new dawn for the countryís travel industry.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryIn his video message, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) told delegates that the Internet had made the world more global and that Japanese companies had to embrace this change and expand.

Olympics 2020 also makes it imperative for the travel trade to prepare for the big day when by then, 20 million foreign tourists will land on its shores.

Last year, Japan crossed the 10 million mark to reach 10.36 million arrivals and the momentum continued for the first quarter.

Freed of visa requirements, South-east Asian markets are surging ahead, Thailand showed a 64.7% growth first quarter 2014 over the corresponding quarter in 2013, Malaysia by 61% and Vietnam by 56.2%.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryHideki Tomioka (left), director, marketing and promotion department from the Japan National Tourism Organisation, who shared these figures, also revealed plans to introduce tax-free shopping this October, a move expected to reap 260 billion yen of economic benefits in five years.

There are also plans to attract Muslim travellers by providing information on Muslim-friendly restaurants and prayers rooms and halal-friendly travel guides. Major airports and large-scale shopping centres will also be equipped with prayer rooms in a bid to go after this US$140 billion market segment.

The industry is still pinning its hopes on an Integrated Resort and the legalization of gaming to take Japanís tourism forward Ė however following talks at the Japan Gaming Congress which also took place last week, it appears greater odds are now stacked against it.

In any case, many are unsure whether this development will do for Japan tourism what it did for Singapore tourism and the talk is that the IR will target the domestic market because thatís what the foreign gaming companies bidding for the project are after.

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