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Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 12 : 50 PM [IST]
Japan – Opportunities Galore - The Island Nation set to receive 40 mn visitors by 2020, 60 mn by 2030

TEJ Ministerial Round Table

Visit Japan Travel & MICE Mart 2018 (VJTM) opened its doors on September 20th, 2018 at Tokyo Big Sight with a clear target of accomplishing 40 million inbound tourists and JPY 8 trillion in consumption by foreign tourists in Japan for 2020. With an aim to give international tourism planners a wider spectrum of the tourism offerings of Japan, all the 47 prefectures of Japan were represented and visited by nearly 800 overseas organisations. The three-day event saw over 17,000 pre-scheduled business meetings.

At a media-briefing, Mamoru Kobori, Executive Vice President, JNTO, said, “Japan has experienced double-digit growth in international tourist inflow into the country for the sixth consecutive year with last year recording total inflow of 28.6 million tourists, up 19% over 24 million who visited in 2016. Continuing robust tourist growth, the country experienced another 19% increase between January and July 2018.”

He informed that Japan is closing the gap on one of Asia’s most popular destinations, Thailand, which saw 32 million visitors in 2016. The upcoming events of Rugby World Cup in 2019 and Olympics in 2020, backed with growth in industrial tourism and opening up of more regional tourism centres would help us achieve tourism targets.

VJTM was held concurrently with Tourism EXPO Japan (TEJ). TEJ is an amalgamation of people involved in tourism from around the world who gather annually to conduct promotional activities through exhibitions and forums and showcase their tourism acuity. Forums and seminars, Japan Tourism Awards, Keynote Addresses and TEJ Ministerial Roundtable were the four major events of TEJ where this year’s theme “Discover Regional Creation in Tourism” was discussed.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Gloria Guevara Manzo, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) presented the keynote addresses highlighting the importance of sustainable tourism and suggesting the use of tourism to fight natural disasters.

The event opened up with a press conference addressed by Shigeto Kubo, President and COO - Japan Travel & Tourism Association, Hiromi Tagawa, Chairman – Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General – UNWTO and Satoshi Seino, President, Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO).

In the opening remark, Tagawa of JATA specified the importance of growth in tourism while keeping the focus on Sustainable Tourism for Community Development. “This year, with more participants, including the Governor of Tokyo, municipal leaders of Japanese local governments will be in attendance at the Ministerial Round Table amid the backdrop of the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics and the 2021 World Masters Games. Considering these events, we would like to showcase the presence of Japan globally. Local communities will be involved in the discussions regarding international, domestic and local communities aimed at working together to realise

Japan’s key objective as a Tourism Nation. In the years to come, we would think of all aspects impacting tourism and look at involving technology for solutions.”

Speaking on the occasion Pololikashivili, said, “We need to use platforms like these to discuss how to make tourism better and how to use tourism against disaster and for education. UNWTO is holding competitions to know what can be done and will announce sectorial innovation ideas for tourism, gastronomy and sports in the coming months. We would also seek new and innovative ideas for waste management.”

“With the goal of accommodating 60 million inbound visitors with potential spending of JPY 15 trillion in 2030, the Japanese government expects JNTO – a TEJ-host organiser and a leader to augment inbound tourism – to play a critical role in achieving this goal in tandem with the Japan Tourism Agency. In addition to invaluable efforts made by travel companies, JTA and JNTO, we ask all players nationwide involved in handling visitors from abroad to join forces in improving the inbound environment, fermenting “hospitality” in the region and upgrading the quality of inbound travel,” said Seino.

The 2nd TEJ Ministerial Round Table, held in collaboration with UNWTO on the first day of the EXPO saw participation of tourism ministers from 14 countries and representatives of tourism-related international organisations, the Japan Tourism Agency and the governor of Tokyo speak openly, honestly and constructively on the principles and practices vital to engaging communities as participants in travel and tourism. Concrete reports, examples of business practices and success stories of sustainable tourism were shared to further pave the way for tourism’s future. The event sought to provide a clear, confident and workable framework to mobilise travel and tourism priorities and partnerships today, embedding sustainable growth of tomorrow.

As a precursor to the Visit Japan Travel & MICE Mart 2018 (VJTM), Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), during the welcome reception for VJTM attendees, unveiled the winners of Japan Best Incentive Travel Award 2018. This 3rd edition of the award ceremony held on September 19 at Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, saw Kulin Kumar Holidays Pvt Ltd from India win in the category of Best Creative Planning.

Other winners included Comfort Travel Services Co Ltd of Taiwan for Best Incentive Travel and JTB Australia Pty Ltd for Best Community Contribution. Prize winners made a presentation on how their programmes made use of the distinctive features of venues and the benefits that were obtained by the sponsoring companies as a result of the trip.

“I would like to thank every member of team JNTO for their support. We are extremely proud and happy to have been honoured with this prestigious recognition and look forward to increased business into Japan from India,” said an elated Kulin Shah, CEO, Kulin Kumar Holidays.

Anita Mendiratta, the moderator at the TEJ Ministerial Roundtable and Founder and President of CACHET Consulting, said, “Through Tourism & Travel, people worldwide are opening their minds and hearts to understand, respect and celebrate differences across countries, cultures, and communities. Strong, sustainable growth of T&T does not, however, happen by default. Informed, inspired and shared leadership is needed to identify where and how travel and tourism must evolve to remain a force for good economically, socially, culturally and environmentally.”

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, said the city has been investing in infrastructure that will see it become more tourist-friendly. She said that as the first city to host the Paralympic games twice, Tokyo has a “responsibility to make roads and rail stations without barriers for those with accessibility issues”, she added that there would be more signs in English in the capital.

A signing ceremony was held to underline the commitment of the private sector to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

According to a report, tourists were most likely to visit Japan for the culinary experience. Culture and history, sightseeing and, to a lesser extent, shopping were also factors. Cruise has been identified as a big part of Japan’s plans for attracting more tourism. Describing it as a great opportunity and a very important sector, Kobori informed, “there are nearly 100 ports in Japan, and they are all wishing to have cruise ships stop at them. Six regional ports are being invested in.”

Speaking about Indian MICE movement, Etsuko Kawasaki, Executive Director of the Japan Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “a rising number of unique learning opportunities for business groups is stimulating interest in Japan as an international business events destination. People chose Japan as a business events destination as it gives them an opportunity to gain insights and helps knowledge and talent meet in the pristine surroundings of the destination. We are looking forward to increased participation from the Indian MICE and wedding planner communities.”

A number of interesting presentation sessions were held, which showcased the various aspects of tourism in the region like Sake Tourism, - Redefining the Japan Experience, Allure of Kumamoto Prefecture (highlighting the support provided during the earthquake and their tourism offerings), Industrial Tourism, etc. Engaging evening events gave participants an opportunity to interact and unwind which enjoying delectable Japanese cuisine and cultural entertainment. The 4th Japan Travel Awards were also announced appreciating the achievers.

The Indian delegations found the 3-day event to be of great interest and were very satisfied with their meetings and hopeful of making a substantial contribution to the number of tourists visiting Japan from India.

The three-day packed business meetings schedule was followed by familiarisation tours of various groups to different parts of the island nation, to provide the travel planners an insight into the offerings of the destination.