2017 has been a strong year for public relations activity overseas by Japanese local authorities, spurred on by two upcoming events, the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. While the RWC 2019 is nationwide and the Olympics is largely focused on Tokyo, both events are seen as a great opportunity to sell Japan to the world and get visitors into areas away from the traditional Tokyo – Kyoto so-called ‘golden route’.
JLGC is increasingly involved in a range of local authority PR and every year has a stall at the Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square and twice a year at the HYPER JAPAN event in various London locations, as well as JapanTag in Dusseldorf, being home to 11,000 Japanese nationals, the largest Japanese ex-pat community in mainland Europe (36,000 in London). London’s very own and much loved festival of Japanese culture – Japan Matsuri – took place in 2017 on Sunday 24 September. In its ninth year and a regular fixture in the London calendar, this energetic annual event brought people together to enjoy an amazing day of Japanese food, music, dance and much more.
With two stages, there was plenty to see all day with an exciting main stage programme and amazing displays of martial arts on the second stage, with taiko drumming and performances from artists on the main stage as well as a chance to sing to the crowds in the ever popular Nodojiman karaoke singing contest.
JLGC put out its stall for the ninth year, promoting Japan’s regions and cities, and giving local authority staff from the prefectures and municipalities a chance to talk to the British public about the charms of their areas, as well as gain insight into what visitors to Japan are most interested in, as well as useful info on what it is that tourist need visiting a country which is renowned for having a difficult language and a very different culture.
Japan’s local authorities are more than ever active at a range of events in the UK, including the annual, World Travel Market in London – the leading global event for the travel industry – taking place at ExCel London from 6-8 November.
It has been another record year for inbound tourism to Japan, with global visitor numbers up 20% this August, the highest figure ever. This year at World Travel Market there will be representatives from Tokyo, Okinawa, Osaka & Hyogo, Wakayama and Central Japan Prefectures on the Japan stand (AS940). They will be joining the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), along with hoteliers and ground handlers from Japan.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA – “Kankocho”) Q1 2017 survey of 10,063 inbound foreign travellers, 69.1% listed food as their top anticipated experience, followed 16 points further back by 52.5% wanting to go shopping. Perhaps even more importantly, the JTA’s survey of people exiting Japan lists the Number One experience during the trip as “Eating Japanese food”, which came in at an amazing 95.3%. Next after food was shopping, at 83.5% (*1).
On the same survey, the type of food craving prior to arrival broke down into three cuisines. If you were from Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, United Kingdom, United States, or Australia, your preference was ramen. When tracking these food preferences over time, you can see the “food education” of travellers from those source countries with a high rate of repeater travellers. For example, Chinese used to prefer Wagyu, presumably because they couldn’t get the same quality/price value back home, while Americans, British, and Australians used to prefer Sushi but now seem to be getting bored with it as the product quality in their own countries improves (*2).
RWC 2019, Tokyo 2020, local culture and cuisine continue to be a useful tool for Japan’s regions to promote themselves internationally, with JLGC supporting such programmes increasingly each year.
*1, *2; TT-905 (Tourism Edition) ’Japan’s Biggest Tourist Magnet – Food and the Bloggers that Follow’, July 17, 2017: http://www.japaninc.com/tt905_Japan-tourist-magnet_food-and-bloggers