Rituparna Chatterjee – Mumbai
Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) is expecting a footfall of 70,000 Indian tourists by the end of 2013. Japan saw 50,900 Indian tourists coming into their country from January to August 2013, which is a 13 per cent increase from 2012 which saw 45,033 tourists coming in during the same period. Among the top 18 countries visiting Japan, India’s position as a source market is 17 in terms of the number of visitors and 14 in terms of percentage of growth reflecting the potential for further growth. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Maharashtra Tourism and Wakayama Prefecture with the objective to promote, strengthen and expand tourism, agro food processing and local enterprises is expected to raise the numbers further.
Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor, Wakayama Prefecture stated, “The MoU is just a starting line to promote many tourists from Mumbai to Wakayama Prefecture and gradually with time Indian tourists to Wakayama Prefecture will increase. Also we will act as a gateway for tourists to go to Maharashtra as it has great sightseeing locations. Travel agencies should either take people to Wakayama Prefecture or to concerned areas like Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara etc including Wakayama.”
Speaking about the reasons for India’s lower position as a source market, Norihiko Sakurai, director – tourism exchange division tourism bureau, Wakayama Prefectural Government stated, “One issue is the VISA, which is an obstacle for the Indian travellers visiting Japan. Other issues are the high airline cost from India to Japan, the long distance of flights, and the less availability of direct flights going to Japan. Since the price of yen is weaker than the dollar, we expect more people to come into Japan.”
Japan’s biggest source markets are the Asian counties, the US (fourth position) and UK (eighth position). South Korea has the highest numbers with 1,779,800 tourists coming in for the period January to August, 2013 as compared to 1, 345, 376 tourists for the period January to August, 2012 (32.3 per cent increase). Russia was at the bottom of the list with 39,800 tourists coming in for the period January to August, 2013 as compared to 30,177 tourists for the period January to August, 2012 (31.9 per cent increase). Strikingly, China showed a decline from 1,129,385 tourists for the period of January to August, 2012 to 839,700 tourists for the period of January to August, 2013 (-25.7 per cent decline). Statistics: Japan National Tourism Organisation