Japan Data

Smaller Japanese Municipalities Struggle to Cope with Flood of Overseas Visitors

Society Guide to Japan

A survey in Japan found that many areas face issues related to preparedness to welcome the increased number of international visitors.

A recent survey has revealed that sightseeing areas outside of Japan’s main urban areas are not fully prepared for the rapid increase in international visitors to the country.

Nearly 70% of respondents said that they face issues related to preparedness to welcome the increased visitors. The survey conducted by the Jalan Research Center targeted Japan’s prefectural governments and destination marketing organizations that work with the private and public sector to promote tourism.

What issues remain regarding inbound tourism?

“Preparedness to welcome tourists,” the most common issue cited by 68.9% of respondents, concerns such areas as multilingual support and measures to alleviate congestion. It was followed by “labor shortages” (65.5%) and “promotions to attract visitors” (58.2%). “Overtourism,” such as congestion and bad manners in places like Kyoto and around Mount Fuji, was cited by 11.9% of respondents. Matsumoto Yukari, a JRC researcher, indicated that the survey results show that “tourist spots have not been able to cope with the sudden increase in overseas visitors following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What overseas markets are you targeting for potential tourists?

Taiwan was the overseas location most frequently targeted as a source for inbound tourism, mentioned by 78% of those surveyed, followed by Australia at 51.4% and the United States at 49.7%. Compared to the results of the 2023 survey, Australia moved up the ranking, surpassing the United States. One reason why a focus has been placed on tourists from Taiwan is that they tend to be repeat visitors and travel to places outside of the main urban areas. Meanwhile, Australia and the United States have been attractive because their citizens tend to take longer trips and spend more freely thanks to the weak Japanese yen.

The online survey was conducted from November 2023 to February 2024, with responses received from 177 organizations.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Mount Fuji seen over a convenience store in Yamanashi Prefecture in May 2024; a black plastic sheet was later raised to block the view in order to stop the flood of tourists from arriving at the spot. © Reuters.)