The annual number of visitors to Japan has topped 10 million and Japan has achieved its first goal as a tourism nation. Following the successful bid to host the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the registration of “Washoku” (traditional Japanese cuisine) as an intangible cultural heritage, the government has announced its goals of 20 million visitors by 2020 and 30 million foreign visitors by 2030. However, given 25 million people visited Malaysia, the most popular Asian destination, in 2012, Japan is lagging a fair way behind.
The changes in the number of visitors to Japan from major ASEAN countries over the past 6 years from 2008 to 2013 (estimated arrivals) is illustrated in the chart. There are many countries in which the CAGR (Compound Average Growth Rate) is growing significantly despite the financial crisis in 2008. The relaxed visa requirements for Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have had a significant effect, however LCCs (Low Cost Carriers) can be considered to have had the greatest impact. They have demonstrated that now everyone can fly to Japan.
It is estimated that the number of visitors to Japan from major ASEAN will grow even more. 18 million Japanese people, the equivalent of 15% of the Japanese population, travel internationally each year. As only a few percent of people from major ASEAN countries partake in international travel, the number of international travelers from these countries is expected to rise steadily. If these travelers from major ASEAN countries select Japan as their destination, it is no exaggeration to say that the number of visitors to Japan will explode!
Throughout its history, Japan has increased contact with foreign nations due to the pressure imposed by other countries. Such increases in contact in the period from the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate to the Meiji Restoration, and in the period from the end of World War II to the period of high economic growth. Now, it appears Japan will increase contact with foreign nations in the most gratifying manner, by welcoming more guests.