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Japan pinning hopes on Southeast Asia tourism market

Monday, July 15, 2013

Japan pinning hopes on Southeast Asia tourism market

Although many countries around the world experienced several years of financial difficulties following the global economic crisis of 2007, some nations fared worse than others. Japan, which had only just recovered from the lasting impact of the collapse of the Japanese housing bubble when the crisis hit, is one such country. However, despite the lingering economic challenges experienced in Japan after the crash, the country has a particularly vibrant tourism market. According to The Nation, Japanese officials hope to capitalize on heightened interest in the country from neighboring countries such as Thailand.

Removing barriers
The news source reports that one of the major factors behind the increased interest in Japan by Thai tourists was the removal of formal visa requirements for Thai nationals visiting Japan. Current projections estimate that more than 400,000 Thai visitors will travel to Japan by the end of the year, and tourism officials believe this figure will increase substantially in the coming decade due to the relaxing of visa regulations.

In addition to the rising number of Thai tourists visiting the Land of the Rising Sun, many more Japanese travelers are heading to Thailand after the country launched an aggressive promotional campaign throughout prominent Asian markets such as Japan and China. More than 1.5 million Japanese nationals are expected to visit Thailand next year as a result.

Substantial losses
While Japanese and Thai tourism officials are likely to be pleased with the increased interest in their respective nations, some key areas in the Japanese tourism sector have taken major hits, most notably the Chinese market. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, overall tourism from China dropped by almost 30 percent during the first five months of the year, largely due to an ongoing political dispute over sovereignty of the islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Both nations claim ownership of the islands, which resulted in several months of military threats between the two countries. However, the addition of Japan's Mount Fuji ?to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is likely to stimulate tourism from other countries, which some analysts believe could offset the financial losses from the decline in Chinese tourism.

For now, it appears Japan is on the upswing in terms of Southeast Asian tourism, and this could spur demand for alternatives to chain hotels in crowded cities like Tokyo. Serviced apartments and short term rental units could grow in popularity as heightened numbers of tourists head to the Land of the Rising Sun.