Tokyo: To amplify their outreach in India, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) conducted its annual ‘Visit Japan Roadshow 2019’ in Mumbai and Ahmedabad in August. Aiming at strengthening the relationship with the travel and trade fraternity, the roadshow was attended by 16 delegates (representatives from hotels, resorts, attractions, DMCs and airlines) who interacted with about 230 travel agents in both the cities.

Stakeholders present at the roadshow were All Nippon Airways, Asahi Travel Service, Asiaclick, H.I.S. Travel, Japan Dream Tour, JR East View Travel Service, Nippon Travel Agency (NTA), Scenic Japan Tours, United Travel Support, YIDA, JTB India, Prince Hotels & Resorts, Tobu Hotel Group, Tokyo Skytree, Yokohama City, Japan
Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

At the roadshows, the interactive platform with prefixed meetings allowed trade partners and travel agents to network and learn more about the diverse product offerings and experiences that Japan has to offer.

Present at the roadshow, Yusuke Yamamoto, the newly appointed Executive Director, JNTO India said, “Over the last few months, we have received a phenomenal response from India. Inbound tourist arrivals from India have significantly increased and we intend to create as much awareness as we can. Although we are observing a steady year-on-year increase in tourist arrivals to Japan, there is so much left to explore to increase this number further. I have joined this new role recently and with India being such a vast market, each day comes with a new learning. Through our varied initiatives this year, we are anticipating a steady increase in arrivals from India.”

In 2018, Japan witnessed 14.6 per cent growth in Indian tourist arrivals with 1,54,029 travellers visiting the country. Keeping up with this growth trajectory, Japan has already witnessed a 14.3 per cent increase during the January to July 2019 period with 1,06,200 Indian visitors in comparison to 92,937 during the same period in 2018.

To catalyze JNTO’s market presence, the tourism board is taking part in numerous joint promotional activities with the biggest stakeholders in the Indian travel fraternity. They are also collaborating with airline partners to promote Japan directly or via connecting destinations. In order to create a 360-degree awareness, JNTO is advertising in the trade and consumer media too.

In the months of July and August, JNTO organised five media and travel trade familiarisation trips to offer a first-hand experience. In an attempt to promote Okinawa as a wedding destination, JNTO took four influential wedding planners to the Okinawa prefecture in March for a recce. After receiving a positive response from the Indian wedding planners, JNTO also organised a wedding seminar in Delhi for the community of Indian wedding planners. MICE is a very big market for Japan especially from India and JNTO is focusing on incentive tours in a big way.

Yamamoto is confident that the destination will witness further growth from the South Indian market with the launch of All Nippon Airways direct flights from Chennai to Tokyo from October 27. Subsequently, in 2020, Japan Airlines will start its direct flight from Bengaluru to Tokyo. It currently offers one-stop connections between India and Japan. This would be the first time South India will see direct flights to Japan which is certain to encourage more number of Indian travellers to Japan. Indigo and Vistara are also exploring commencing flights to Japan. East Asian airlines like Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific offer one-stop India-Japan options. Air India and All Nippon Airways already fly non-stop to Tokyo.

Over the last few years, Cherry Blossom has become very popular among Indian travellers, according to Yamamoto. “Autumn is the second biggest season for us, after winter”. The Golden Route (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima), is the most sought after itinerary among Indian travelers followed by the Alpine Route which is a remarkable mountain experience.

Following Bollywood celebrity Dia Mirza’s travel experience in Japan in March 2019 which went viral, other top Bollywood names like Sonam Kapoor, Chunky Pandey, Aamir Khan, Soni Razdan and Shweta Bhachchan have also visited Japan, leading to tremendous coverage for the destination.

Another lesser known fact is that there are many Indian restaurants in Japan. Hence food is not an issue at all. There are 3000+ Indian restaurants in Japan, home to over 30,000 Indians.

Hokkaido and Tōhoku (north and north east regions) are now being promoted in a big way to ensure balanced tourism development around the country.

“Our bullet train (Shinkansen) is an experience by itself. It connects most destinations and runs on time, and should be on every tourist’s bucket list,” concluded Yamamoto.