JNTO to help firms target tourists from Southeast Asia


Japan’s plan for offsetting the plunge in Chinese tourists with visitors from Southeast Asia is expanding to public-private strategy meetings.

The Japan National Tourism Organization estimates visitors from six countries in the region surged 32.3 percent to about 210,000 in the January-March quarter from a year ago. That’s near the Chinese total, which sank 27.3 percent to 260,000 over the Senkakus dispute.

To reel in 1 million visitors from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam this year, the agency plans to hold a strategy meeting for tourism-related industries later this month. About 200 companies and groups from hotels to local governments are expected to promote services and destinations to some 120 travel agencies in Southeast Asia.

State bodies, including the Justice and Foreign ministries, have also drafted less stringent visa rules for such tourists, mirroring South Korea, which now allows tourists from Thailand and Malaysia to enter visa-free.