Being world’s top destination demonstrates Japan’s potential

Japan’s high attractiveness as a tourist destination can be said to have been proven.

This has to be taken as an opportunity to reaffirm Japan’s overall potential, not only in tourism resources but also in safety and hygiene conditions, and to revitalize the economy, which remains in a slump.

The World Economic Forum, a private research organization in Switzerland, has announced its Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021. Japan ranked first among the 117 economies covered in the assessment.

Since the survey began in 2007, this was the first time for Japan to top the list. The United States placed second and Spain was in third.

In the previous survey for 2019, Japan ranked fourth, but reportedly would have ranked second if the assessment was recalculated using the new evaluation criteria.

The government has been trying to attract foreign visitors to Japan under the goal of becoming a “tourism-oriented nation.” Although the number of visitors declined sharply due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus infections, the good points of Japan must have become steadily and widely understood abroad.

Of the 112 assessment items, Japan received high marks for transportation infrastructure and cultural and natural resources, among other tourism resources.

In the area of transportation infrastructure, increased signage in foreign languages on information boards in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and smart cards issued by railroad companies have made it significantly easier for foreign visitors to use transportation.

Railway services, such as that of the Shinkansen, have always had a reputation for being right on time. In the airline industry, low-cost carriers have pushed down prices and made it easier to make connections at regional airports, leading to a high reputation.

The country’s safety is also a strong point, with a low crime rate boosting its ranking. The hygiene conditions also find approval among many people.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis in Ukraine is also believed to have increased the value of “safety and security” around the world. Good safety and hygiene conditions will certainly be major assets in the promotion of tourism.

The abundance of tourism resources, such as World Heritage sites, festivals and traditional performing arts, were also reasons for the high ranking. Many visitors to Japan are also said to enjoy Japanese gastronomy.

Japan’s outstanding aspects must be reaffirmed through the latest ranking and promoted widely to the world.

The government plans to resume accepting inbound tourists on June 10 for the first time in about two years. The number of visitors to Japan in 2019, before the pandemic, reached 31.88 million, but that was only good for 12th place in the world. There is much room for expansion.

It is important to gradually bring back visitors to Japan and revitalize struggling regional economies and tourism industries while preventing a renewed outbreak of infections.

The hope is that the people of Japan will have confidence in their country’s attractiveness and improve their ability to communicate it, thereby raising Japan’s international standing once again.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 31, 2022)