The scale and impact of the earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear accident on Japan’s travel & tourism industry will depend on how willing international visitors and Japanese people are to travel again. This was one of the key findings from research by WTTC/Oxford Economic report that was released during the 11th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Las Vegas.
The report, commissioned by WTTC, looked into previous disasters to gauge the potential impact of The Tohoku Pacific earthquake and tsunami which struck the northeast region of Japan on 11 March and has been described by Japan’s Prime Minister as “the toughest and most difficult crisis for Japan since the end of World War II”.
The findings of the research indicate that the impact of the earthquake and tsunami could range from a reduction of ¥0.9 trillion (as a best possible scenario) to ¥1.9 trillion (as the worst case scenario) in Travel & Tourism’s contribution to Japan’s GDP in 2011, depending on travellers’ perceptions. A return to baseline forecasts could be seen by 2012 if clear messages help international and domestic travel resume.
As the 5th largest origin market in the world for long-haul travel and the largest Asian market a significant fall in the number of Japanese people travelling to destinations around the world would have a massive impact on global Travel & Tourism.
David Scowsill, CEO & President, WTTC commented: “Prior to the events of 11 March travel & tourism was expected to directly contribute ¥10.5 trillion to Japanese GDP in 2011, or 2.2% of total GDP, and to directly provide nearly 1.5 million jobs. The Japanese economy in 2011 was expected to reach ¥33 trillion, 6.8% of total GDP.”
“Our research suggests that the speed of Japan’s recovery will depend on a number of factors, including the extent of the damage and political support to build infrastructure and promote travel & tourism, but the most crucial factor will be the perceptions left on the travelling public by the disaster.
“If tourists realise that Japan is open for business, helped by clear and reassuring policy announcements, and if the Japanese people themselves resume international travel, demand could recover within a year, according to our forecasts.”
The research looked into the recovery of travel & tourism after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes in Central America and the Caribbean, the Asian tsunami, the Kobe earthquake and terrorist attacks, which indicated the average duration of an impact is between 8-26 months.
Scowsill revealed: “We can see from previous shocks that Travel & Tourism is resilient and recovers quickly. However, predicting reactions this time is more complex given there is no precedent for the nature of this two-fold natural disaster.”
“WTTC has been impressed by the determination of our 2012 hosts to use the Summit as a demonstration of Japan’s recovery and ongoing commitment to tourism.”
Next year’s Global Travel & Tourism Summit will take place in Tokyo on 17-19 April, as the Government remains undeterred in its efforts to rebuild visitor perceptions of destination.