In the first half of 2020, the number of foreign visitors to Japan decreased suddenly due to the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) infection worldwide, which has seriously impacted the travel industry around the world. What will happen to the Olympic and Paralympic Games that have now been postponed to next year?
Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) and the Japan Travel Bureau Foundation (JTBF) have jointly conducted an investigation around Asia and abroad to determine the impact of the new coronavirus on foreign travelers intentions to travel abroad and to Japan. A questionnaire survey was conducted from the 2nd to the 12th of June, targeting 6,266 foreign travelers in 12 regions of Europe, the United States and Australia. In August 2020, the findings were published in a survey report titled “DBJ/JTBF Asia/Europe/America/Australia Foreign Visitors Intention Survey (2020 New Corona Impact Special Survey)” The outline and results of this survey are as follows:
After the end of the new Coronavirus, there remains a strong desire to travel abroad and Japan’s popularity remains high.
〜Thorough safety and security, strengthening the clean image of Japan ～
As of June 2020, less than 20% of the respondents in Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia answered that they would travel overseas within six months for future overseas travel. Since 30% of the respondents answered that they would travel abroad only if the travel itself is less than 5 hours, it can be surmised that the longer the distance, the less likely it is that they’ll go. Even those who are planning to travel overseas are worried about the virus, especially in Asia.
Travelers have noted that they’ll only consider overseas tourism after the threat of the coronavirus has ended, after a development of an antidote, after the WHO declare the pandemic over, after the declaration that overseas travel is safe again and after the departure restrictions are lifted in their own countries. Given all of these restrictions, it will take a considerable amount of time before the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan will return to normal.
After the end of the pandemic, the intention to travel abroad again ranks in at 86% of respondents from Asia and 74% from Europe, the United States and Australia. Overall, many foreign residents said they would like to travel abroad again. In addition to these findings, many cited reasons for wanting to travel abroad again, with western residents saying they liked travelling abroad to respondents in Asia expressing a wish to relax and heal or a desire to experience other countries and cultures. On top of all this, a large amount of respondents said that their budgets for overseas travel will increase and their length of stay will also increase with the end of the coronavirus.
Japan ranked as the top country for travelers wishing to travel again after the end of the virus. It ranked second in polls amongst Europe, the United States and Australia. Japan’s popularity amongst travelers seems to remain unchanged before and during this pandemic. However even so, expectations amongst 36% of respondents were that Japan maintain anti-virus measures such as disinfection, hygiene regulations and overall cleanliness even after the virus is over. Expectations for antivirus measures from Asia in general are high.
This pandemic also seems to have changed the way travelers travel with companions. Full package tour deals which included meals, sightseeing, tour guides with air tickets and accommodation have fallen in popularity whereas dynamic packages (which usually include only the airline tickets and accommodation) seems to be more popular these days. As for accompanying persons, travelers are much more likely to take a spouse or their own children as they know their health history.
Compared to other countries and regions, Japan has a low overall rating in terms of multilingual support and it’s hard to tell if Japan has taken more of an economic hit than the likes of Taiwan due to this pandemic. But things like shopping, meals, safety and cleanliness still ranks rather high for Japan.
Based on these results, in order to meet expectations and encourage further interest in travel to Japan, mainly Asian travelers, Japan must thoroughly implement and maintain safety and hygiene measures by continuing antivirus regulations. Cleanliness must become a strong point for Japan. On top of that, accurate information in various languages, especially other Asian languages, must be provided to ease the high degree of anxiety regarding the pandemic and foreign support. Travelers must be able to relax and such measures may attract foreign tourists seeking expensive accommodations and long-term stays. It will be important at this stage to prepare for the needs of a new flood of tourists seeking these measures post-pandemic.
Source: Development Bank of Japan, Ltd. ・ Japan Travel Bureau Foundation
Detailed information on the new coronavirus infection can be found in various languages from the special page of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare page here.
In order to welcome many foreign visitors to Japan with peace of mind, various initiatives will be thoroughly implemented to ensure the utmost safety and assurance after this pandemic has ended.