2023: Successful Recovery of Inbound Travel & Business to Japan

At the start of 2023 we anticipated that it would be the year of proper recovery for inbound tourism and MICE in Japan. In this article we want to take a look back at 2023 and discuss where we are at, both nationally, and here at JTB Meetings & Events by JTB Communication Design (JCD).

Inbound Visitors to Japan in 2023

Let’s start by looking at the data of overall inbound visitors to Japan; the most easily understandable market of how the market is doing. We are happy to share that over the course of the year the total amount of monthly visitors to Japan has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and in December even surpassed it!

inbound travel MICE Japan When comparing 2023 to 2019, at the start of the year the number of visitors was still down more than -40% (roughly 1.5 million visitors in January 2023 versus 2.7 million in January 2019). From there on things got better and better, and in October the 2023 count surpassed the 2019 count for the first time by +0.8%. November was around the same, but then in December there was comparative growth of an astounding +8.2% (2.7 million visitors, compared to 2.5 million in December 2019)!
※For the full data please have a look at JNTO’s (Japan National Tourism Organization) website here.

Inbound Visitors to Japan in 2024

It will be interesting to see how far this growth will continue over the course of 2024. Although one might think that the trend will continue the same as before the pandemic, we need to keep in mind that the world is not the same. This becomes abundantly clear when looking at the country breakdown of the above inbound visitor statistics. While the numbers from most Asian countries have grown significantly (e.g. South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan), others are not recovered yet (e.g. China, Thailand, Malaysia). As for the Western world, North American as well as Australian visitors are more numerous than ever before, while European inbound visitor numbers have not reached their 2019 level just yet.

inbound travel MICE Japan Also, looking at the bigger picture, people’s attitudes towards travel have changed. There are various trends such as ‘revenge travel’, ‘wellness travel’, and of course various dynamics related to sustainability which we will cover in future articles. Of course all this also hinges on economic developments as personal and organizational budgets have changed. Important to note here is that the Japanese Yen is significantly weaker than it was a couple of years ago. With the exchange rate as favorable as it is, especially for those coming from countries such as the USA, people will be looking to make the most of this while it lasts.

Meetings, Events, and Other Business to Japan

As far as the recovery of inbound event business to Japan, while there is obvious correlation with overall visitor numbers, this is harder to pinpoint and showcase with reliable overall data at this time. However, just taking a quick look inside JCD, it is abundantly clear that inbound events are back. That said, things are not the same as they used to be. Just as the source countries for tourism, the countries that we receive event inquiries from have shifted as well. On top of that, both the scale and form of events that clients wish to hold in Japan seem to have changed, possibly leaning towards quality over quantity. Sustainability is of course a big theme, as well as more experiential incentives and unique venues. Throughout the year we look forward to giving you more insight into this with concrete current case studies.

inbound travel MICE Japan We are very much looking forward to seeing how the inbound MICE industry in Japan will continue to grow and evolve throughout 2024. Especially with the World Expo 2025 in Osaka drawing ever closer, these are exciting times. If you are interested in holding an event, whether large or small, or have any other questions, feel free to contact us here at any time!

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