Welcome back, Japan: the Rising Sun at BIT2024

Welcome back, Japan: the Rising Sun at BIT2024

A big comeback at BIT2024: Japan gets on board in the wake of the strong recovery of inbound tourist flows. We talked about this with Noritsugu Yusa, sales manager for JNTO, Japan National Tourism Organization.

Work continues on BIT 2024, which is confirmed as of now to be an international exchange platform with a big comeback: Japan. The Land of the Samurai, whose incoming flows have been hard hit by the pandemic, has in recent years resolutely maintained its goal of restoring numbers to 2019 levels; and looking at statistical data provided by the JNTO, the Japan National Tourism Organization, the intent is succeeding. In fact, although government restrictions were only completely lifted in April this year, the growth in admissions is steady and has exceeded 15 million visitors in the first seven months of 2023. And Italian travelers, after all, represent a significant portion of tourists for Japan, which is why the latter's return to BIT is of considerable strategic value. We had the opportunity to discuss this development with Noritsugu Yusa, sales manager for JNTO.


"Comparing 2019 data," Yusa reported, "international arrivals in Japan have almost reached pre-pandemic levels. Counting that the country lifted all restrictions in April 2023, we can be satisfied with the excellent work of the Italian operators, despite having to deal with the lack of on-site staff (Italian-speaking guides or English-speaking hotel staff) and consequent delays in confirming services."


"The year 2023," Yusa continued, "confirms the success of Japan as a destination for Italians. In August 2023, there were 24,000 Italian visitors compared to 22,800 in 2019, thus confirming August as a record month due to the "forced" vacation of the majority of Italians."


Japan, after all, offers a wide range of unique and diverse experiences; from the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Kyoto, to the pulsating energy of Osaka and the pristine natural wonders of Hokkaido, to wellness experiences in picturesque spa resorts such as Hakone and Beppu. Each region offers a distinctive perspective on the country's culture, history, and natural beauty.


Against this backdrop of varied and unique attractions, the country's renewed participation in BIT is a useful tool to assess international interest with respect to the proposed travel opportunities, including in relation to new trends and expectations of travelers.


"Japan has been missing from BIT for a couple of years now," Yusa continues, "so we decided to return to see for ourselves what is the demand for Japan as a destination for both B2B and B2C, in terms of quality of demand. Despite the 3-year closure, so far we have noticed that inquiries are focused on what we call the Golden Route (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima) but the post-pandemic has brought out the interest in local culture, tea ceremony experiences, wearing a Kimono, a taste of calligraphy, and the lesser-known destinations or the less traveled by mass tourism, especially the outdoors (skiing in Hokkaido or sea in Okinawa)."