Japan - Country Commercial Guide
Travel and Tourism

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-08

Overview

In 2019, Japanese outbound travelers reached a record number of 20.1 million. The United States was one of the most popular destinations for Japanese visitors, enjoying an 18.7 percent market share. Japan was the second-largest source of overseas travelers to the U.S., with 3.8 million Japanese visitors contributing $12.9 billion in spending to the U.S. economy. In 2020, with the outbreak of COVID-19, visitor arrivals from Japan decreased 81 percent. While the cross-border travel restrictions will likely stay for some time., the U.S. destination marketing organizations (DMOs) continue to strengthen their partnerships with Japanese industry counterparts gearing up for the sector’s rebound in 2022.

There are three peak holiday periods in Japan: Golden Week, Obon, and the end of the year through the week of the New Year. Golden Week, generally a popular time to travel abroad, occurs at the end of April/early May. Travelers often expand these public holidays into five-to-nine-day vacations. The Obon holiday occurs around August 15, which overlaps with the Japanese summer school break. Thus, August is the peak month for all Japanese travel. Finally, many Japanese companies and organizations close their operations during the last week of December through the first week of January, the New Year holiday, making the period a popular time for international travel. All these holidays present excellent opportunities for the U.S. travel industry to attract Japanese visitors. 

Japan’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

The Japanese government has declared multiple states of emergency to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak, which essentially closed its borders to leisure travel except for Japanese citizens and long-term residency holders. For the current travel restrictions, please visit the website of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) at https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

Travel Technology and Digital Solutions for Domestic and Inbound Tourism in Japan

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe placed tourism as one of Japan’s economic drivers in 2012. With Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population, tourism has been a significant pillar supporting economic growth in rural areas. In 2015, Japan easily surpassed its initial goal of attracting 20 million foreign tourists by 2020. Japan was on the path of welcoming 40 million overseas visitors by 2020 and set an ambitious goal of receiving 60 million by 2030. 

Japanese DMOs and regional tourism bureaus are actively preparing to welcome overseas visitors post-COVID. As of March 2021, there are 198 registered DMOs in Japan. Those DMOs, regional tourism bureaus, and other tourism-related industries (e.g., hospitality, retail, restaurant, and transportation) are keen on utilizing advanced U.S. solutions and technologies to support Japan’s domestic tourism market infrastructure needs. High growth areas include digital marketing using SNS, AI, Big Data, language support services, and online booking systems. Counter-viral infection solutions, such as non-contact payment systems, biometrics authentication technologies, and sanitation products, are in high demand.

Opportunities

Tourism EXPO Japan 2022 Business Meetings & Exhibition  (https://www.t-expo.jp/en/exhibit2022) 

September 22-25, 2022

Tokyo Big Sight

Resources

Data Sources

  • Number of Outbound Travelers: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)
  • Number of Outbound Travelers to the U.S.: U.S. Department of Commerce, (NTTO)

CS Japan Contact

Ms. Tamami Honda, Senior Commercial Specialist

Tamami.Honda@trade.gov