Japan Travel

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S (TOURISM) TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, March 22, 2015, Issue No. 796

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+++ Active Volcanoes Versus Tourist Murders

In a dreadful event last week, three Japanese were killed and three more
wounded after Islamic State terrorists targeted a group of foreign
tourists alighting buses for the famous Bardo National Museum in Tunis.
In total 17 tourists and two locals were killed, and the event has
shocked both nations. It will most likely set back tourism, an important
earner of foreign exchange for Tunisia, by a decade or more. Indeed, for
Japanese luxury tourism, because all six Japanese victims were on a
7-night luxury cruise of the Mediterranean, it may kill the sector dead.

If the Egyptian experience after the 1997 Luxor massacre of 58 tourists,
including 10 Japanese, is anything to go by, it took about 10 years for
Japanese travel to that country to recover. Unfortunately, just as
things got back on track, the revolution and accompanying safety
concerns caused numbers to plummet again. This time, though, not just
for Japanese tourists. Things are so bad in Egypt that between 2010 and
now, tourism revenues have fallen a massive 95%, to just US$15m
annually, setting off a wave of unemployment and company closures.

These overseas tragedies remind us just how lucky we are with public
safety in Japan, and how Japan should be selling itself as a safe
destination for international tourists wanting somewhere exotic to go.
Male or female, you can venture out just about anywhere day or night and
feel safe. There are not many destinations that you can go to without
fear of robbery, assault, traffic accidents, or something much worse.
Tourists are vulnerable and easy targets, especially if you’re a single
female, you don’t speak the language, or you’re an older or frail
person, and I have to believe that being able to travel without fear has
some value. I just returned from a business trip to Thailand, which
pulls in an amazing 25m-30m tourists a year, and yet the country is
getting a reputation as one of the most dangerous Asian countries to
travel to. Certainly I thought twice about going into certain areas at

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Actually, comparing Thailand to Japan is interesting, because although
overall Thailand gets a lot more tourists, it attracts about the same
number of American tourists that Japan does (826,350 versus 891,600
annually). This is important because handily the US State Department
tracks its citizens’ non-natural fatalities by country. What the US data
shows is that there were 43 non-natural deaths of American tourists in
Thailand in 2013 versus just 8 in Japan. Of these, the leading causes of
death were 20 auto deaths, 12 suicides, and 3 homicides. In Japan by
comparison, there was 1 auto death, 6 suicides, and no murders. For
Americans at least, Japan appears to be five times safer and only twice
as depressing.

So how does one appeal to tourists on the basis of Japan’s reputation
for safety?

I think the PR strategy would need to take two tracks. The first and
most obvious would be to line up Japan against a number of other tourist
destinations in Asia, and publicize some of the resulting numbers. This
would need some serious lifting by the Stats Bureau, since the safety
numbers pertaining to tourists don’t appear to be publicized anywhere —
probably because the number of incidents is so low. But at least some of
the major categories should be covered: murder, assault (particularly
rape), robbery, auto accidents, other accidents, suicides and the like.
In most cases, we suspect that Japan would tie with Singapore and Korea
as safe destinations, although interestingly more foreign tourists
suicide in Korea: 9 versus 6 in Japan. Both countries enjoy similar inflows.

The second track would be a more audacious effort to differentiate Japan
vis-a-vis Singapore and Korea, and probably is not a natural thought
process for Japanese tourism authorities. I’d introduce some risky
travel activities/destinations that can’t be easily experienced in
either Singapore or South Korea, but which can be enjoyed safely if
managed properly. A good example would be Hokkaido’s spectacular
off-piste skiing, which could be managed by allocating budget for
drones, guides, and wardens who rate and manage each area. Another,
would be deep water diving with dolphins and whales in the Ogasawara
Islands far to the south of Tokyo.

Still another, and perhaps the most spectacular would be journeying to
active volcanoes such as Sakurajima just south of Kagoshima. Last week a
German photographer/videographer, Marc Szeglat, shot rare photos and
video of pyroclastic lightning at the volcano and one channel on
Youtube.com that shows the video has had 330,000 views in the 6 days
since. That’s pretty good viral marketing, and the footage is so good I
want to go there and see it for myself…!

* http://bit.ly/1HmHFo7 (Hokkaido off-piste skiing)
* http://bit.ly/1BGKPe3 (Ogasawara whales)
* http://bit.ly/1EGgxwK (Sakurajima eruption)

…The information janitors/


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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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