The government has drafted a plan to more than triple the annual number of foreign travelers to Japan to some 30 million by 2030 through ramping up promotional activities, sources said.
The draft estimates that if the target is achieved, the spending of foreign visitors may expand to ¥4.7 trillion in 2030 from ¥1.3 trillion in 2010, when overseas arrivals totaled a record 8.61 million.
The increased spending is also projected to boost travel industry-related jobs to 830,000 in the target year from 250,000 in 2010.
The plan, crafted as part of an economic growth strategy the government will adopt in June, urges governmental agencies to prepare to establish and promote high-quality tourism resources as part of a “Japan Brand.” For instance, the draft says, the government and private sector should cooperate to increase coverage of Japanese destinations on overseas TV programs.
It also calls for easing visa conditions this year for visitors from Southeast Asia while examining the issuance of long-stay visas for wealthy travelers. Amid a substantial decline in Chinese travelers since the bitter Senkakus territorial dispute flared last fall, the plan indicates the government hopes to attract far more travelers from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, among other countries in the region, to cover the shortfall.
The draft also urges the government to turn Japan into Asia’s largest sponsor of international conferences, while promoting the development of a new railway network linking Haneda and Narita airports with central Tokyo, based on a feasibility study to be conducted in fiscal 2014.
The World Tourism Organization estimates the number of international travelers will double to 1.81 billion in 2030 compared to 2010, with robust growth expected among visitors to Northeast Asian countries, including Japan, and Southeast Asia.
The goal of drawing 30 million foreign travelers to Japan “is difficult but not impossible to achieve,” said Takeshi Sakimoto, associate professor at Osaka University of Tourism. “The expansion of low-cost carriers is leading to a rise in the number of people who can afford to enjoy international travel.”
Noriko Yagasaki, a senior analyst at the Japan Research Institute, noted that the nation has lagged behind South Korea in attracting foreign travelers. “The government should ease conditions for visas and focus on measures to increase the number of repeat overseas visitors to Japan,” she said.