WTTC: Tourism in Japan showing ‘clear signs’ of recovery

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5th Oct 2011
WTTC: Tourism in Japan showing ‘clear signs’ of recovery

World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill has confirmed the launch of the second of four quarterly reports examining the recovery of the tourism industry in Japan following the Tohoku tsunami earlier this year.

In an upbeat assessment, the WTTC finds the sector is showing signs of a “strong recovery”.

The report – officially entitled: The Tohoku Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami: Impact on Travel and Tourism – reveals international tourist arrivals to Japan will recover in numbers by early 2012.

This is expected to be coupled to a faster recovery in Japan’s own domestic travel and tourism demand.

The findings are broadly in line with data from the Japan National Tourism Organisation and STR Global, both of which suggest the recovery is in full swing.

Japanese Optimism

Such grounds for optimism are partly the result of the appreciating Yen boosting overseas travel and positive news on the containment at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A forceful marketing campaign by the Japan Tourism Agency which will include public-private partnership initiatives also ensures a quicker recovery of Japan’s inbound tourism.

Speaking at the Special International Symposium on the Revitalisation of Japan’s Tourism Sector & Quake Affected Regions, Scowsill stated: “As the world’s third largest travel and tourism economy, the recovery of Japan is one of the most compelling issues facing the industry anywhere.

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, he expressed the government’s gratitude that WTTC will bring the industry’s leaders to Sendai and Tokyo during the Global Summit in April 2012.

“It sends a clear message about our commitment to showing that Japan in general, and the Tohoku region in particular, have recovered from the tragic events of March 11th and are ready to rediscover their position among the world’s premier tourism destinations.”

Global Summit

The first report, launched at WTTC’s Global Summit in Las Vegas in May, set three recovery scenarios and suggested that the overall impact of the earthquake and tsunami could range from a reduction of ¥0.9 trillion (low impact scenario) to ¥1.9 trillion (high impact scenario) in travel and tourisms contribution to Japan’s GDP in 2011.

Prior to the March 11th, Japan’s tourism sector was expected to directly contribute ¥10.5 trillion to Japanese GDP in 2011, or 2.2 per cent of total GDP, and to directly provide nearly 1.5 million jobs.

This second report analyses the recovery using data from JNTO and STR Global.

Foreign visitor arrivals in June and July were 36 per cent lower than in the same period last year.

This compares to falls in April and May of 62 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

So while a full recovery is still some way off, the situation has improved significantly, argues the WTTC.

Likewise, the data shows hotel room demand has improved in June and July relative to previous months since the quake but was still roughly five per cent lower than June and July 2010.

The report also highlights that, according to Oxford Economics estimates, domestic travel demand was only two per cent lower in the three months to July 2011 than in the same period in 2010, and may even have been marginally higher than a year earlier in July.

The above data shows that Japan’s tourism sector is recovering well and that a return to baseline can be expected by early 2012, in line with WTTC’s low impact scenario.

To download the report please click here.

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