Saturday, June 15, 2024

GCC fuels strong recovery of inbound tourism to Japan

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has announced the remarkable resurgence of inbound tourism to Japan, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries leading the way. 

Alongside countries like Singapore, Vietnam, the United States, and Mexico, the GCC region has shown a strong recovery in visitor numbers, reaffirming Japan’s enduring appeal as a preferred travel destination.

The first half of this year saw 13,537 GCC nationals visiting Japan. Remarkably close to the 2019 figure of 13,582, this signifies a strong revival of interest in Japan among GCC travelers. Moreover, countries such as Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain have outperformed their 2019 visitor numbers, showcasing the robust recovery of inbound tourism from these markets.

June 2023 witnessed a significant milestone, with Japan welcoming 2,073,300 international visitors, equivalent to 72.0 per cent of the June 2019 figure. This marked the first time since January 2020 that Japan surpassed two million visitors in a single month, signaling a promising rebound for the country’s tourism industry.

The cumulative number of international visitors to Japan during the first half of 2023 reached an impressive 10,712,000, surpassing 10 million visitors. This accomplishment reflects the resilient revival of Japan’s tourism sector, highlighting the country’s enduring allure for global travelers.

Kobayashi Daisuke, Executive Director of Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Dubai office, expressed his satisfaction with the recovery of tourism from the GCC countries. He attributes the rebound to the recent introduction of visa waiver arrangements and online visa applications in some GCC countries, coupled with the total lifting of COVID-related border control measures in April. Furthermore, close collaboration with airlines and travel agencies in the region has further promoted Japan as a preferred leisure destination.

As summer unfolds, Daisuke invites all visitors to Japan to take part in the exciting festivals and outdoor events that await them. For an unforgettable summer festival experience, he recommends visiting the Tohoku region in early August, where the Sandai Matsuri (three major festivals) take place over multiple days. Among these, the Nebuta Matsuri (August 2-7) stands out with its iconic festival floats paraded through the streets, lit up like giant paper lanterns before enthusiastic crowds. Similarly, visitors can attend the Tanabata Matsuri (August 6-8) in Sendai, known for its long colorful streamers decorating the city’s shopping arcades. The Akita Kanto Matsuri (August 3-6) in Akita features street parades with participants carrying pole-mounted lantern towers that lend the festival its name.

Another not-to-be-missed event is the Earth Celebration on Sado Island, Niigata prefecture. The 36th edition, to be held on August 18-20 in and around Ogi Town, will showcase different guest artists collaborating with Kodo, an internationally acclaimed drum performance troupe based on Sado Island. This unique Japanese music festival attracts thousands of people from all over Japan and the world, promising an extraordinary cultural experience.

Daisuke extends a warm invitation to all GCC travelers to immerse themselves in Japan’s rich cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and warm hospitality.  Japan eagerly awaits the return of international visitors to rediscover the wonders it has to offer, he says. 

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