​Japan targets 200,000 Vietnamese visitors

Thursday, 05 February 2015
Vietnamese tourist arrivals in Tokyo and Japan as a whole have grown steadily. Last year, 124,000 Vietnamese visited Japan, up a staggering 50% against the previous year. Japan looks to lure 200,000 Vietnamese tourists by 2017.

Chieko Sugisaki, senior director of the tourism division under the Bureau of Tokyo Industrial and Labor Affairs, said at a “Tokyo City Promotion 2015” conference in Hanoi early last week that around two-thirds of 13 million foreign visitors to Japan last year dropped by Tokyo, including Vietnamese travelers. The city is attractive to foreigners as it is unique, exciting, comfortable and convenient, Sugisaki explained.
Tokyo is an old city where traditions of more than 400 years have been well preserved but at the same time, have been blended with modern lifestyles. It is now one of the largest economic and political hubs in the world. Therefore, visitors can get hands-on knowledge of Tokyo as a convergent city with a unique cultural mix of classical and modern features, she said.
On the other hand, Tokyo is busy, dynamic and safe, making tourists comfortable to hang out late at night. Moreover, Tokyo residents are friendly, so visitors can hardly feel lost despite language barriers.
Especially, Tokyo is known for the best infrastructure in the world with modern public transport systems. Japan is famous for its Shinkansen, which is a network of high-speed railway lines with maximum speeds of around 300 kilometers per hour and with punctual service schedules.
One more attractive point about Tokyo is its food culture as it has more than 100,000 Japanese restaurants, many of them granted the most Michelin Stars in Asia and in the world as well. Japanese cuisine Washoku was added to the list of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Takashi Yamamoto, general director of the Bureau of Tokyo Industrial and Labor Affairs, said that in order to lure more foreign tourists, more duty-free products in the city have been added since October last year. A zero tax applies to all products, instead of an 8% rate as previously, and visitors can see more “Duty-Free” stores.
Last year, Japan began relaxing the visa requirements for Vietnamese visitors, especially those participating in package tours arranged by accredited travel firms in Vietnam. This policy change has boosted Vietnamese tourist arrivals in Japan.
In 2020, Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We are looking to welcome 1.5 million foreign visitors to Tokyo and to realize that goal, we are working on multiple projects, including providing free wifi citywide, making menus in 11 different languages, including Vietnamese, adding signs in different languages, and mobilizing more than 40,000 volunteers to help foreign visitors at railway stations and airports,” said Yamamoto.
Local firms pin high hopes on Japan market
Also at the conference, around 50 Vietnamese travel firms met with 17 potential partner companies to sound out cooperation prospects. These firms seemed very optimistic about the possibility of attracting more Vietnamese to Japan in the coming time.
Nguyen Thu Quynh of Du Lich Viet Co. said Vietnamese visitors to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong slid dramatically last year but those to Japan grew sharply.
“Vietnamese formerly preferred visiting Japan during the cherry blossom and red leave seasons. Last year, Du Lich Viet and other local travel firms joined a club on Japan tours to design more attractive Japan tours in other periods of year. Thanks to this, Vietnamese booked Japan tours almost throughout last year,” she said.
Many local travel firms consider Japan one of the major markets and it can replace several traditional markets such as China and Taiwan this year, especially after Japan eased its visa requirements for Vietnamese.
Previously, Vietnamese people wanting to visit Japan were required to prove that they had a stable job, VND100 million (US$4,685) in their savings accounts, or house or land.
With the lax visa requirements and the cooperation between Vietnamese and Japanese travel companies, Vietnamese just book Japan tours at accredited local travel firms, submit their passports and photos, and fill in the visa application form.
Given those conveniences, Du Lich Viet plans to bring 60 to 85 Vietnamese tourists to Japan each month this year, rising 40% over last year.
The two most popular tours to Japan these days are a four-day tour that takes in Tokyo and Fuji Mountain and costs around VND25.9-27.9 million per pax, and a six-day tour that takes in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto and costs VND33.3-39.9 million per pax.
Not only Vietnamese tourism companies, Japanese tour operators also hold high expectations over a surge in Vietnamese visitors to Japan.
Hiroshige Ito of Japan Airlines in Vietnam said last year around 13 million foreign visitors came to Japan and most of them are from Thailand and South Korea.
This year, the Japanese government has instructed the tourism sector to focus on tapping into the markets of Vietnam, the Phillipines and Indonesia. Therefore, many tourism companies have prepared their promotion programs for those three countries, especially when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, he said.
Japan Airlines will also carry out some promotion activities such as reducing ticket prices, offering discounts for travel firms and dealers that attract more visitors on a quarterly basis, and organizing annual familiarization (FAM) trips for travel firms to help them design new products.
Source: SGT