The state of the outbound and inbound Japanese tourism industry


The Japan Association of Travel Agents released data on the state of the travel and tourism industry in Japan.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan was 2.29 million in July, 19.7% over July 2015, the highest ever record for July and for a single month. The previous record for the month was set in July 2015 when 1,918,000 foreign tourists visited Japan; the largest number of visitors in a single month was set in April 2016 with 2,082,000 foreign arrivals.

The number of foreign visitors grew by 26.7% in January – July reaching 14.01 million and exceeded the same period of 2015 by 2,952,000.

In July, 1,427,000 Japanese traveled overseas, an 8.9% increase over the previous year. On year‐on‐year basis, 4.5% more Japanese traveled abroad compared to January – July 2015 with 403,000 travelers over the same period of 2015.

Transaction by Major Japanese Travel Agent
Compared to last year, overseas travel shrank by 2.1% in April and 10.9% in May. Inbound travel grew by 20.5% in April and 15.6% in May while domestic travel increased by 2.4% in April but dropped 7.0% in May.


Outbound Market

Bookings at major travel agencies in April were 2.5% below the same period of 2015 and May saw a 10.9% decrease year‐on‐year basis. The Golden Week holidays was not contributory to taking long leaves and the sense of worry about the international affairs resulted in a smaller number of bookings compared to the same period of 2015.

Inbound Market  

Major travel agencies reported a 20.5% increase in April and 15.6% more visitors in May. The visa waivers for Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and other East‐Asian countries contributed to the steady growth of visitors from the region.

Domestic Market

In April, domestic travel was 2.4% over the same month of the previous year and dropped by 7.0% in May.
Although Hokkaido and Tohoku enjoyed steady demand, the difficulty of taking long holidays during the Golden Week and the decrease in demand caused by the Kumamoto earthquake were major factors in the smaller number of bookings compared to the same period of 2015.

JATA Activity

The Japan Association of Travel Agentsinitiated the “Enjoy Japan
to the Full!” campaign on April 1, 2014, promoting the increase
of domestic overnights.   

The first commercial, run from the beginning of the campaign, featured popular artists WORLD ORDER and was produced in Hokuriku, which at the time had attracted attention with the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen tracks.  In April 2015, JATA released a promotional video shot in Kyushu, which had garnered popularity as a destination for inbound travelers.  The second video for the year was released in July the same year, and again, introduced the Tohoku region.  

In fiscal year 2016, the campaign is scheduled to introduce Fukushima with a promotional video of WORLD ORDER titled “Miwa’s Tour Diary” released in April.

Recovery of Demand for Europe and Stimulation of Youth Travel
Chairman Tagawa: Commitment to the revitalization of overseas travel
At a press conference held at Zen‐Nittsu Kasumigaseki Building
on July 1st, Mr. Hiromi Tagawa, Chairman of JATA, shared his
views as a chairman on the current state of the travel industry
and the issues it is tackling at present.  

Mr. Tagawa talked about “the recovery of the Japanese overseas
travel” considered the largest challenge by the travel industry at
present. “Overseas travel has been flagging for the past several
years. Europe, which is the industry’s best seller, has fallen into
the doldrums and we need to work for its recovery,” emphasized
Chairman Tagawa.  

Mr. Tagawa also mentioned that invigoration of youth travel is of utmost importance for the recovery of outbound travel in general. The strategies to counter the loss of interest in travel by young people have been the topic of the meeting “Travel Vision for Japan of Tomorrow” chaired by Prime Minister Abe. Mr. Tagawa said that the youth travel is a national challenge and should be addressed as such, so that Japan does not fall behind other nations in building international human network in the future.

Chairman Tagawa added that while re‐establishing the fundamental “planning ability,” “intermediating service ability,” and the “tour‐conducting ability,” JATA will commit to stimulating the market and creating demand.