The year of 2014 also marked another positive milestone for Japan’s tourism industry: According to the government’s report released in June, Japan’s tourism industry turned in a surplus for the first time in over 50 years. This reflects that the nonstop popularity of Japanese food culture drives more travelers to Japan, and the expansion of tax-free eligible items generates more sales to international travelers to Japan, which conveniently coincides with weaker Japanese yen as well as the expansion of visa regulations for Asian passport holders.
The latest statistics also shows the result from May 2015 became the 14th straight monthly record high for the number of US visitors. JNTO believes that continuous tourism promotion by JNTO and Japanese local governments have been influencing the public interest, as well as the weaker Japanese yen is also encouraging travelers to visit Japan (see attachment #1). In May, there were 92,200 US citizens traveled to Japan, which became the highest number of the month of May ever recorded.
Kyoto city was crowned with the World’s Best City in a consumer travel magazine Travel+Leisure in their World’s Best Awards 2015. This is the second consecutive year for Kyoto to win this award, which proves the public interest in Japan as a destination has been significant and stable. JNTO is taking this opportunity very seriously for tourism promotion, and will continue the Visit Japan projects for the new goal set for bringing even more US visitors.
The growth of the US tourism market also believes to be one of the elements of the increase of the US travelers to Japan, in addition to the weaker Japanese yen and the decrease of fuel surcharges. JNTO’s further commitment to make off-the-beaten-path destinations such as the northern region of Japan appealing to foreign tourists contributes to showcase more dimensional beauty of Japan. The market potential level is also growing, and the JNTO New York Office sees this as a good promotional timing to raise attention to less known regions for both B2B and B2C travel industries.