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Exploring Japan’s Rural Tourism Trends with Recent Statistics
With its picturesque temples, stunning mountain landscapes, and otherworldly shrines, Japan’s rural tourism hotspots have been drawing in tourists from all over the world for years. Not only do they offer a unique glimpse into Japan’s ancient history and culture, but they also provide a chance to experience the country’s unique natural wonders. But how has Japan’s rural tourism changed over the years? In this article, we’ll explore the latest statistics on Japan’s rural tourism trends to give you an insight into the current state of the industry.
Tourism Numbers in Japan
In 2019, Japan welcomed a record 31.19 million international visitors, up 4.7% from 2018. Of those visitors, the majority came from China (11.3 million), South Korea (7.7 million), and Taiwan (3.7 million). The number of visitors from the US also increased by 3.1%, with a total of 2.7 million visitors.
The majority of these visitors chose to visit Japan’s major cities, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Nonetheless, there has been an increasing interest in Japan’s rural areas, with more and more tourists choosing to explore the country’s less-travelled provinces and districts. In 2019, rural tourism accounted for 11.6% of all international tourist arrivals, up from 10.7% in 2018.
In the same year, the number of international visitors to Japan’s rural areas increased by 11.6%. The most popular destinations were Wakayama Prefecture (up 11.3%), Fukuoka Prefecture (up 10.7%), and Aomori Prefecture (up 10.6%).
Tourism Spending in Japan
In 2019, international visitors to Japan spent a total of ¥5,890.2 billion (approx. $54.2 billion). Of this, ¥1,159.8 billion (approx. $10.7 billion) was spent on rural tourism, making it the third-largest tourism expenditure category after shopping (¥1,875.8 billion) and accommodations (¥1,457.4 billion).
The largest contributors to rural tourism spending were China (¥462.4 billion), South Korea (¥355.1 billion), and Taiwan (¥174.5 billion). While rural tourism spending from the US increased by 6.9% (¥86.3 billion), it still lagged behind those of the other top three sources.
In terms of spending per person, rural tourists from China had the highest spending, with an average of ¥41,738 (approx. $380) per person. This was followed by South Korea (¥29,856) and Taiwan (¥27,791). By contrast, rural tourists from the US had the lowest average spending at ¥16,854 (approx. $153).
Types of Rural Tourism in Japan
The most popular type of rural tourism in Japan is nature-based tourism. This includes activities such as camping, trekking, fishing, and bird watching. In 2019, nature-based activities accounted for 28.2% of all rural tourism spending, making it the largest contributor to rural tourism expenditure.
The second-largest contributor to rural tourism spending was cultural tourism, which accounted for 27.2% of total spending. This includes visits to traditional villages, shrines, and temples. Other popular activities for rural tourists include cycling, food and drink experiences, and shopping.
Trends in Rural Tourism
In recent years, Japan’s rural tourism industry has seen an increasing demand for unique and authentic experiences. Rural tourism businesses have responded to this by developing new activities and services that cater to the needs of international visitors. For example, many businesses now offer tours and activities that focus on traditional Japanese culture, such as tea ceremonies and calligraphy.
In addition, many rural tourism businesses have embraced digital technology. In particular, social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have been used to promote rural tourism businesses, as well as to share tips and advice for visitors. As a result, these platforms have become an important tool for rural tourism businesses to reach out to international tourists.
Accessibility of Rural Destinations
Accessibility is another important factor in rural tourism. In recent years, Japan has invested heavily in improving transport links to rural areas, making them more accessible to international visitors. For example, the Japan Rail network now offers direct services to many rural destinations, making it easier for visitors to get around.
In addition, the Japanese government has implemented a range of measures to make rural tourism more affordable. These include discounts on train and bus fares, as well as discounts on accommodation and other services. As a result, it is now easier and more affordable for international visitors to explore Japan’s rural areas.
Regional Distribution of Rural Tourists
The majority of international visitors to Japan’s rural areas come from East Asia, particularly China, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, there has also been an increasing number of visitors from other parts of the world, such as Europe, the US, and Australia. In 2019, the number of visitors from Europe increased by 5.1%, while the number of visitors from the US increased by 3.1%.
In terms of regional distribution, the most popular rural destinations were Wakayama Prefecture (up 11.3%), Fukuoka Prefecture (up 10.7%), and Aomori Prefecture (up 10.6%). These three prefectures accounted for nearly a quarter (24.5%) of all rural tourism spending in 2019.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on Japan’s rural tourism industry. In 2020, international visitor numbers plummeted to just 5.39 million, down 83.1% from 2019. This has had a devastating effect on rural tourism businesses, with many having to close their doors due to lack of customers.
The pandemic has also had a major impact on the Japanese economy, with the tourism sector being particularly hard hit. The government has taken a range of measures to help the industry recover, including providing financial support to businesses and launching campaigns to encourage domestic travel.
Opportunities for Rural Tourism in Japan
The pandemic has had a major impact on Japan’s rural tourism industry, but it has also opened up opportunities for businesses to innovate and create new experiences for visitors. For example, many rural tourism businesses have started to offer virtual tours and online experiences, enabling visitors to explore rural Japan without having to leave their homes.
In addition, the pandemic has highlighted the need for rural tourism businesses to diversify their offerings in order to appeal to a wider range of visitors. This includes developing new activities and services that focus on traditional Japanese culture, as well as making use of digital technology to reach out to international visitors. By doing so, rural tourism businesses can ensure that they remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.
In conclusion, Japan’s rural tourism industry is an important part of the country’s economy. In 2019, international visitors to Japan’s rural areas spent a total of ¥1,159.8 billion (approx. $10.7 billion), making it the third-largest tourism expenditure category. The pandemic has had a major impact on the industry, but it has also opened up opportunities for innovation and creativity. By taking advantage of these opportunities, rural tourism businesses can ensure that they remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.
This article has explored the latest statistics on Japan’s rural tourism trends, giving you an insight into the current state of the industry. We’ve looked at the number of international visitors to Japan’s rural areas, as well as the types of activities they are engaging in and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also highlighted the opportunities for rural tourism businesses to innovate and create new experiences for visitors. By doing so, they can ensure that they remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.