Inbound tourism to Japan looks like it could be finally on the road to recovery, but the rebound of its sister sector, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), may take much longer, industry experts say.

The inherent need for business event attendees to get together as groups, mostly inside and in significant numbers, makes the industry more difficult to operate in line with existing anti-infection measures and more prone to disruption in the face of any uptick in COVID-19 cases. That characteristic, coupled with the normalization of hybrid events, poses challenges to the return of inbound business trips.

Such business events should operate hand in hand with tourism, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The Asia Pacific International Events Management Journal even notes that the industry’s success is dependent on “strong collaboration with the travel, hospitality and leisure sectors that provide products and services for the industry.” A city tour, for example, is ideal as an excursion for conferences and as an activity for tourists, while a cultural experience workshop is suitable for both corporate team building and leisure visitors.