Even before travel and tourism in Japan fully recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials in the government were prompted to discuss how to manage over-tourism. This was a reaction to the resurgence of inbound tourism, which, according to the newest figures, was approaching pre-pandemic values in giant strides. This high influx of tourists in 2023 possibly reflected the number of travel-starved Japan-lovers on the one hand, while on the other, it might have been facilitated by sustained government efforts to increase inbound tourism.
Tourism in Japan is a complex industry comprising various segments, including travel service providers, lodging, transportation, gastronomy, events, and the souvenir business. Additionally, numerous satellite industries depend on tourism, such as outdoor goods manufacturers and wellness service providers. The size of the tourism industry is considerable and the industry is a significant provider of jobs. Inbound tourism, in particular, is thought to have high growth potential and is regarded as a possible driver of the Japanese economy, with prospects to contribute substantially to Japan’s economic reinvigoration in the future. While inbound tourism made great leaps forward in terms of expenditure during the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic travel still comprised the lion’s share of tourism GDP.
Tourism amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The government’s tourism-related strategy during the pandemic was to keep international travel at a minimum and promote domestic travel when conditions allowed. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, inbound and outbound international travel to and from Japan nearly disappeared, while domestic tourism declined significantly.
To help reinvigorate hard-hit segments of the tourism industry, the government devised various nationwide schemes, such as the “Go to Travel” campaign, which attempted to increase domestic travel volume by providing travelers with a subsidy when spending money on travel-related purposes. The program successfully attracted participants, but the resulting travel sprees resulted in the resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases. With the gradual relaxation of measures starting in 2023, inbound and outbound travel resumed. Inbound travel, in particular, showed a strong recovery curve.
Holiday destination Japan
As inbound tourism is regarded as especially promising, the government devised various measures to make inbound travel more attractive and improve the experience of foreign visitors. It included steps to ease travel visa requirements for visitors from numerous countries, creating more airport landing slots, and providing easily usable hotel billing codes, to name just a few.
Consequently, the number of international visitors coming to Japan increased significantly in the past decade prior to the pandemic. Further strategic objectives included plans to facilitate shopping tourism and to become a hub for international conferences. Japan seems to be in a unique position when it comes to welcoming international tourists.
From its wellness and relaxation offers to high-quality products and services, from vibrant metropolises filled with cultural activities and attractions to remote hiking tracks and scenic nature settings, Japan has numerous tourism activities to satisfy every traveler.
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