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Analysis of the tourist visitation to Japan

Case Study of Tourism in Japan.
 

The Japanese past has an interesting history as well as rich in events, the Japan of today is equally fascinating due to the presence of cutting edge technology along with beautiful architecture and has still been able to maintain the traditions of the country. The country is famous for its cuisine, shopping areas, shrines and temples, historical monuments and the architectural marvels. Japan has a rich and cultural heritage which includes the wonderful kabuki along with the traditional geisha which makes it a good tourist destination (JNTO, 2011). This case study will conduct an analysis of the tourist visitation in Japan, discuss why is it attractive for the tourists, important issues in relation to the development of the tourist destination, positive and negative impacts of the activities of tourism on the host industry and policy implications for developing outcomes of sustainable tourism in Japan.

As per the “Japan National Tourism Organisation”, the number of visitors from overseas who were estimated to visit Japan in March 2016 touched 2.01 million which was an increase of 31.7 percent from 2015. This was the highest figure that was recorded on a monthly basis and for the first time in history it exceeded the figure of 2 million. In comparison to March 2015, there were 19 nations that witnessed this increase. The reason for this was the approaching Sakura season as well as the Easter holidays which increased the need to visit Japan. The number of Chinese visitors to Japan was 498,100 in March which was an increase of 47.3 percent and there was an increase in the accumulated figure which exceeded by 1 million since January this year (JTB Tourism Research and Consulting Company, 2016). 

Figure 1 – The number of foreign visitors to Japan in the period between January 2016 to March 2016. 
 Figure 2 – The number of foreign visitors to Japan according to month for the previous three years
Figure 2 – The number of foreign visitors to Japan according to month for the previous three years 

Grand Total

Total

Tourist

Business

Others

Short Excursion

 2015 Jan.

12,18,393

9,78,476

1,22,506

1,17,411

 

Febï¼Å½

13,86,982

12,07,242

1,14,641

65,099

Marï¼Å½

15,25,879

12,36,489

1,51,984

1,37,406

Aprï¼Å½

17,64,691

15,28,848

1,39,608

96,235

Mayï¼Å½

16,41,734

14,11,626

1,42,464

87,644

Junï¼Å½

16,02,198

13,98,845

1,38,697

64,656

Julï¼Å½

19,18,356

17,12,803

1,31,296

74,257

Augï¼Å½

18,17,023

15,84,484

1,14,132

1,18,407

Sepï¼Å½

16,12,208

13,46,488

1,34,254

1,31,466

Octï¼Å½

18,29,265

15,64,772

1,66,456

98,037

Novï¼Å½

16,47,550

13,99,516

1,73,986

74,048

Decï¼Å½

17,73,130

15,99,537

1,11,276

62,317

2016 Jan.

18,51,895

15,79,364

1,33,950

1,38,581

Febï¼Å½

18,91,400

Marï¼Å½

20,09,500

Figure 3 – The Visitor Arrivals to Japan and the Purpose of the Visit in 2015 and 2016

Studies on tourist motivation and satisfaction show that the overall satisfaction of the tourists is reflected by the push as well as the pull dimensions related to satisfaction. Satisfaction also arises with the opportunity of experiencing the social and cultural specificities of a destination, taking the suitable facilities into consideration (Correia et al., 2007). Japan is among the world’s most attractive destination for tourists which offers “Cool Japan, Fusin with Tradition”. New attractions like the Tokyo Skytree are being added to the already existing attractions such as shrines and temples, Mt. Fuji, townscapes which are old fashioned, hot springs and the cuisine of Japan  (Schoenberger, 2008).  This co-existence of the traditional buildings as well as temples from the bygone era with the modern achievements such as technology and architecture form a unique blend that makes Japan attractive for the tourists and provides the tourists with overall satisfaction. Besides, the facilities like hotels in Japan and cuisine is also of high quality providing which provide satisfaction to the tourists. Visitors can immerse in the culture and history of the nation on one day and on the next day they will be able to get a glimpse of the future via the developments in technology. Majority of the historical site still this day are used for the purposes for which they were originally meant at the same time they remain open for the public to visit. Throughout the year one can witness the natural history if the country. It also serves as a venue for international conferences and meetings. The destination is among the safest in the world as the crime rate is among the lowest globally which increases its attractiveness, making it ideal for tourists. The top tourist attractions of Japan include the Golden Pavilion, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Todaiji Temple, Great Buddha of Kamakura, Himeji Castle, Kiyomizu-dera, Jigokudani Money Park and Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Touropia, 2015).

Reasons that make Japan attractive for the tourists

Apparently it seems that a nation such as Japan that has richness in both technical innovation and traditional culture and other things like delicious cuisine to offer would be a very big hit among the tourists. However, it has been revealed that in actuality, Japan is not a destination that is very popular for the people who are travelling abroad. Tourism in case of Japan brings to the country 900 billion yen in a year which is significantly less in comparison to the earnings of nations like UK, Germany and USA from tourism (Japan Today, 2015). This beautiful nation is an unpopular holiday destination due to the following reasons –

There is a lack of good quality advertising. With the rapidly increasing connection of the world by means of the internet, it has become easier to communicate with the people across the globe in a way that they are sitting with you in your room and there is also a growing interest among people for the nations that have distinct cultures. Japan has not been self promoting itself in this era of the internet and has not articulated itself to the world at large as to why the people need to come and visit the nation. Proper promotion is very essential for a nation that has hopes of standing out on a platter which is already full of various delicacies. Currently, Japan has not making enough efforts on this front. Whatever advertising campaigns have been launched by the Government such as the “Cool Japan” have not been good enough to attract tourists to the nation  (Japan Today, 2015).

The major reasons why the people from USA and Europe do not visit Japan are that it is too far off as well as too expensive. As the island is located in the far east corner of the world, nothing can be done about it but measures can definitely be taken to bring down the expenses. Transportation and accommodation in Japan is highly expensive and added it are the food costs, the costs of souvenirs, etc. thus, with the yen which has a high value, people are forced to have a look at the tourist destinations that are cheaper like Asia where even the poor student visitors will be able to survive  (Japan Today, 2015).

Most of the native folks of Japan have comparatively very low level of English knowledge which makes communication difficult for the people going on a vacation to Japan. In Tokyo also, the visitors can find themselves stuck in issues related to language and outside Tokyo there are a number of spots for sightseeing that do not even have English signs. The Japanese language does not contain the Roman alphabets so it is difficult for travelers to make use of the translation app or dictionary. This makes the traveler to get stuck severely as they are unable to read the menus in the restaurants and the signs on the railway stations. The people of Japan are also very reserved and shy and do not even try to speak English in parts like people of other nations do, in order to communicate even though they have limited awareness of the language  (Japan Today, 2015).

Identification and critical analysis of the important issues related to tourism and destination development in Japan

Japan is usually considered as a place which is incredibly inconvenient. It is epitomized by “ubiquitous conbini” particularly if a person is staying there. However, it is still inconvenient for people who stay there for the short term or travelling there.

First and foremost, it is a big pain to get into the city itself. Being one of the busiest airports in the world, it is located very far off from the central city of Tokyo. The next problem is faced by the visitors when they try to make payments for the bus or train tickets as Japan is a society that mainly accepts cash and credit cards are not easily accepted. Besides this, the ATMs which accept the card of foreign nations are very few and far off and usually closed beyond the regular hours of business. Tourists also face difficulties in checking the routes online or researching about the places of interest. Even though the nation is technologically very advanced, very few places have WiFi facilities. Additionally it is not possible to purchase mobile phones that are cheap which SIM cards that are disposable. This makes contact with other members of the group difficult (Japan Today, 2015).

The positive as well as the negative impacts of tourism activity on Japan’s host community can be as follows –

Positive

Tourism in Japan will help in the creation of jobs by means of direct employment in the industry of tourism and indirect employment in the transportation and retail sectors. When the wages are sent by the people on goods as well as services, it results in a “multiplier effect” that will create more jobs. Opportunities will also be provided for Japan’s small scale business enterprises particularly in the rural areas leading to the generation of extra tax revenues like hotel and airport taxes that can be utilized for the development of hospitals, housing and schools (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

Negative

In order to be successful, tourism is dependent on the establishment of basic infrastructure like hotels, visitor centres and roads. The cost is usually borne by the Government and has to therefore come up with tax revenues. Jobs that tourism creates are usually poorly paid and seasonal but tourism can push up the prices of the local properties and also the cost of goods as well as services. The money that tourism will generate in Japan may not ultimately benefit the host community as it may go to the large MNCs like the hotel chains. Economic recession and also natural disasters to which Japan is prone can adversely affect tourism in the country (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

Positive

Tourism can result in infrastructure improvement along with new leisure amenities which will be beneficial for the host community. It will encourage the traditional customs, festivals and handicrafts to be preserved and lead to the creation of civic pride. A better cultural understanding will be created through guest and host interactions and also raise the awareness of the issues like those related to human rights and poverty on a global scale (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

Negative

The behavior of the visitors can detrimentally effect the host community’s quality of life, for instance, congestion and crowding, problems of alcohol and drugs, prostitution and increase in the crime levels can take place. Tourism may also result in the infringement of the human rights with the displacement of the locals from their own land so that new hotels can be constructed or they can be barred from visiting the beaches. The traditional values as well as cultures of the host community may also be eroded due to interactions with the tourists (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

Positive

Tourism especially ecotourism as well as nature assists in the promotion of conservation of the natural resources like the rain forests and also in the preservation of wildlife as they are considered to be tourism assets now. It also helps in the generation of funds for the maintenance of marine parks as well as animal reserves by means of guide fees as well as entrance charges. By the creation of alternative employment sources, problems like deforestation and over-fishing may be reduced by tourism in Japan (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

Negative

A threat might be posed by tourism to the natural as well as the cultural resources of Japan like the heritage sites, coral reefs, beaches and water supply due to overuse. The levels of pollution can increase due to traffic emissions, noise, increased production of sewage and littering (Zaei & Zaei, 2013).

The number of foreign visitors to the nation is touching 10 million and the number is expected to grow with the Olympics coming up in 2020 in Tokyo (Wakako, 2014). For success in the growing markets, the various policy implications for developing sustainable tourism outcome for Japan can be –

  • Sustainable tourism requires a closer cooperation between the private and public sectors along with integrating inbound promotion with a wide set of policies of tourism and combining independent efforts of the specific destinations with the national policies in an active way (Funck, 2012).
  • Sustainable tourism needs a public policy that is strong and emphasises on leading improvements in the considering the environment, planning of physical resources and including the local community people and educating the various parties (Alduais, 2009).
  • Sustainable tourism should respond to the visitor needs to be successful. The planners should provide opportunities of bringing the visitors closer to the site’s cultural and natural values by management of the development impacts. With innovative products for the holiday packages as well as the mass market, sustainable development of the tourism market can be influenced in a positive way (UNEP, 2005).
  • A balance between the limits and usage has to be found through changing, monitoring and also planning in a continuous way. For this long term thinking is needed and the realizations that change is usually gradual, cumulative and irreversible. The environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development should consider the interests of each and every stakeholder (Sustaintable Tourism, 2014). 

Conclusion

Japan is tourism destination that is untapped. Development of a larger tourist market can make contributions towards an economy that is both diversified and healthy and which will serve as an economic vitality source. A tourist industry that is more developed will not harm the culture of Japan but will leave it intact since the economy of Japan is not as vulnerable to fluctuations as the economies of the other developing nations.  The larger influx of tourists is unlikely to effect negatively a culture which is already established and mature or lead to an economy that is addicted to tourism. Tourism on the contrary can foster understanding, coordination and cooperation. Japan thus needs to support its tourism industry and nurture it to foster cross-cultural awareness (The Japan Times, 2013). 

Alduais, K., 2009. Sustainable Tourism Development and Japan Policies. Technical Report. Tokyo: Japan Foundation Mejiro University Tokyo, Japan and Japan Foundation.

Correia, A., Kozak, M. & Ferradeira, J., 2007. From tourist motivations to tourist satisfaction. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 7(4), pp.411 - 424.

Funck, C., 2012. The innovative potential of inbound tourism in Japan for destination development − a case study of Hida Takayama. Journal of the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo, 24(2), pp.121-47.

Japan Today, 2015. Why is Japan such an unpopular tourist destination? Japan Today, 19 January.

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