Saturday, February 24, 2024

Japan tourism restart an opportunity for global industry

Japan’s move to fully open its borders to tourists once again as of September 7,  presents a significant opportunity for hotels and inbound providers of tourism services all around the world to capture Japanese tourists once again, experts point out.

Alex Barros, Director of Marketing and Innovation at Beonprice, a revenue management and total profitability platform for the hotel sector, said: “In terms of inbound Japanese travelers to Europe evidently this is good news as while Japanese citizens could leave the country for some time, they were subject to restrictions on return and so on when returning. Plus the opening up to foreign tourists gives a very clear signal that the Japanese government sees the wider world as safe again, something that will be comforting to Japanese tourists. Hotels should therefore be activating their Japan sales and marketing channels again.

“Nonetheless, the Yen currency is at one of its weakest points in many years, so this will make international travel for Japanese people a little more expensive so maintaining and increasing profitability could be more difficult. However, with the right strategy, it will be possible and hoteliers value Japanese guests greatly.”

Fabian Gonzalez, Founder of Forward_MAD, a luxury tourism event happening in Madrid from October 5 to 7, commented: “Japanese guests are hugely prized by luxury hotels around the world so news that the country is now making it easy for them to travel again is very much welcome. Coming just as the high season ends and with Chinese outbound tourism still not reactivated, many hotel properties around the world will no doubt breathe another small sigh of relief – the end is slowly coming into sight.

“While Japanese tourists are not as numerous as some other outbound markets, they are nonetheless typically higher spenders when it comes to room types and more generally for shopping and other in-destination services, appreciating luxury experiences very much. They also tend to book much further in advance, travel in groups, and cancel less than some other markets – all highly valued characteristics for hoteliers where last minute bookings (and cancellations) are costly.  

“How should hotels reactivate bookings from the market? Build strong relationships with tour operators and travel agents, as for many Japanese travellers an international trip is a special experience and they are less likely to go via an OTA or book direct.”

Wolfgang Emperger, Senior Vice President for Europe, Africa and the UK & Ireland Region, Shiji Group, commented: “As countries have started to reopen again, especially those that have been closed for longer than most, we are seeing them face several challenges at a tech level as they try and reactivate systems and processes that have evolved while they’ve been deactivated: whether that be payment platforms, software updates, changes in providers or protocols… there’s much that Japanese sellers of international travel will need to consider when trying to make and then service international bookings. There’s no one easy ‘press here’ button sadly.

“Hotels in Europe and the Americas keen to capture Japanese guests should also consider those challenges in reverse. Certainly they should be reaching out to their Japanese tour operator and travel agent counter parts to discuss what these changes mean, at both the sales / distribution level as well as the tech level.

“While the recovery is likely to be slow, not least as the Yen is quite weak right now, nonetheless Japanese tourists will be welcome guests for many western hotels as they tend to be high value guests that book further in advance, stay for longer, cancel less, take higher room categories and spend more in the property on services like room service or buying in-destination experiences via the concierge. Therefore this is encouraging news.”

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