For many Indians, Japan is all about Samurai, Sumo wrestling and Suzuki and their holidays are all about the Alps or London and Paris. That is what the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) hopes to change. With a sharply targeted campaign, including a Facebook contest that busts myths about lack of Indian food in Japan or paucity of destinations, it is going all out to win over the Indian traveller.
Japan joins a band of Asian countries, including Taiwan and Korea among others to tap into the Indian wanderlust. “We are actively promoting the destination as there is a huge potential in the Indian market,” said Yusuke Yamamoto, JNTO’s executive director in India. Last year over 150,000 Indians visited Japan registering a growth of 14.6 per cent over the previous year.
This push comes in the backdrop of Japan’s recent tension with South Korea. Nearly 75 per cent of all its overseas visitors come from East Asian countries. But recent events have impacted the flow. Yamamoto hopes increased air connectivity with India and engagement with local travel partners will help. Japan’s All Nippon Airways is launching a Tokyo-Chennai service in October while Japan Airlines will begin its Tokyo-Bengaluru flight next summer. “Indian tourists like the cherry blossom season but now we are promoting travel in autumn and winter too,” he said.
Tourism authorities of South Korea and Taiwan too stepped up their game. While Korea Tourism Organisation has engaged with bloggers and celebrities to broaden the appeal, Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB) is advertising on Mumbai metro coaches. This is part of a promotional effort that includes tie-ups with media companies and the multiplex chain Inox for a television series in Taiwan. Over the past year TTB has increased its annual marketing budget for India by six fold to US$ 1.2 million.
“Seasoned travellers are looking at unconventional destinations like Japan or Taiwan. We work closely with tourism boards and help drive demand to these destinations,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C), Yatra.com.
A recent Bloomberg report said that South East Asian countries have reported a decline in Chinese tourist arrivals. Though smaller in size, the Indian outbound industry is expected to compensate for some of the loss. Even Vietnam Tourism is looking India-ward. Vietjet has announced direct flights from Delhi to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from December. “India is one of our priority markets,” the airline’s vice president Nguyen Thanh Son said.
Hong Kong, which has in recent weeks witnessed political turmoil has been active too. The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is wooing the corporate traveller. Over 50 hotels are part of its reward programme that includes complimentary meals and experiences such as tai chi lessons and lion dance shows. “Between January and July, we registered a total arrival of 234,368 Indian visitors to Hong Kong which is a growth of 1.7 per cent over the same period last year. During the same period last year we also saw a strong double digit growth in meeting and incentive group travel segment from India,” the HKTB said.