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: 2020-10-30

Overview

In 2019, Japanese outbound travelers reached a record number of 20.1 million.  The United States continued to enjoy one of the most popular destinations amongst Japanese visitors, with an 18.7 percent market share.  Japan was the second-largest overseas source of travelers to the U.S., sending 3.8 million visitors.  Japanese spending in the U.S. remained healthy, with travel and tourism receipts totaling $12.9 billion. 

In August 2019, the United States and Japan reached an agreement under the "U.S.-Japan Open Skies Agreement," allocating 12 new slot pairs (12 arrivals and 12 departures daily) for U.S. air carriers and 12 new slot pairs for Japanese air carriers from Tokyo's Haneda Airport.  The following new daytime flights were to begin services in spring 2020. 

- American Airlines (2 flights): Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles

- Delta Air Lines (5 flights): Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland (Oregon), Honolulu

- Hawaiian Airlines (1 flight): Honolulu

- United Airlines (4 flights): Newark, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles

- Japan Airlines (6 flights): New York-JFK, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Honolulu (2 flights)

- All Nippon Airways (6 flights): Washington-Dulles, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle

As a result, the Japanese travel industry actively developed new U.S. tours in responding to the increased seating capacity. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced most travel and tourism operators, including all airlines between the U.S. and Japan, to severely reduce their services in spring 2020.

While the cross border travel restrictions will likely stay for the remainder of 2020, the U.S. destination marketing organizations (DMOs) continue to strengthen their partnerships with Japanese industry counterparts gearing up for the sector's rebound in 2021.

Japan’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

To mitigate COVID-19 related infection risks, in April 2020, Japan declared a national emergency and banned long-term and medium-term foreign residents from returning to the country.  There are approximately 2.6 million foreign nationals who hold medium-to-long-term residence status, including business executives, engineers, technical trainees, and international students.  As of August 2020, Japan continued to ban entry from non-Japanese citizens travelers from 159 countries and regions, including the U.S., China, South Korea, and European Union nations.

Since summer 2020, Japan has been in discussions with countries where COVID cases are decreasing, aiming to relax its entry restrictions gradually, starting with business travels. 

On August 28, Japan announced to allow foreign nationals who hold Japanese residency to return the country effective September 1, 2020. Please visit the website of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) at  https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001074.html for additional information.

Travel Technology and Digital Solutions for Domestic and Inbound Tourism Business 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. 

 While the current industry focus primarily is on domestic travels, Japanese DMOs and regional tourism bureaus are planning to attract inbound overseas travelers to their destinations post-COVID. As of March 2020, there are 162 registered DMOs in Japan.

Those DMOs, regional tourism bureaus, and other tourism-related industries (such as 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 2020 Tokyo Business Meetings & Travel Festa 

(https://www.t-expo.jp/en/tokyo/guide/exhibit2020)

Tokyo Big Sight West Exhibition Hall

January 7-9, 2021

Web Resources

          (http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/en/index.html)

Data Sources

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

CS Japan Contact

Ms. Tamami Honda, Senior Commercial Specialist

Tamami.Honda@trade.gov