Japan needs to woo more budget tourists from Asia-Pacific

Posted at 02/01/13 4:10 PM

SINGAPORE - Japan needs to make itself more affordable as a holiday destination to capture an explosion of tourists from emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, a report on travel trends in the region released this week notes.

"With traveler numbers outbound from Japan likely to remain static or even fall over the next two decades, travel providers in Japan will need to increasingly shift focus from outbound to inbound markets," Amadeus, a technology solutions provider for the travel industry, said of its findings of research on future travel trends in the Asia-Pacific.

"This will mean increasing the attractiveness of Japan as a destination to overseas travelers, and particularly to Asia-Pacific travelers," it added.

The bulk of growth in traveler numbers across the Asia-Pacific over the next two decades will come from the emerging economies of China, India and Indonesia due to a swelling middle class.

By 2030, the enormous increase in the middle class in China, India and Indonesia will generate an additional 225 million outbound visitors each year, most of them from China and India.

But most travelers from these economies will still be on a relatively tight budget, it said.

Now, most Asia-Pacific travelers face serious visa impediments when travelling to Japan and other barriers include the high cost for local travel and accommodation in Japan and a lack of budget airlines.

Budget airlines have a market share of only 12 percent in Japan, well behind the global average of 26 percent, the report notes.

"Hence, to capture the growing traveler numbers from emerging economies, destinations such as Japan will need to increasingly cater for the budget traveler with facilities such as budget airlines and hotels. Japan faces a major challenge, not just through its high costs but through the relative lack of infrastructure for budget travelers," it added.

The report said Japan needs to beef up its budget airline infrastructure by establishing second-tier airports to cater for international budget airlines.