Japan has always been known as a conservative society that is well entrenched in its ideas of tradition, culture and the preservation of social institutions (Japan, 58-63). Yet, it is this focus on tradition that has resulted in the preservation of its ancient cultural traditions that has enthralled and fascinated the world for generations.
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At the present, the country is home to 125 million people with the main language spoken being nihonggo. There are also various regional dialects such as Kansai-bien which is primarily being utilized within the rural areas of the Kansai region (Japan, 58-63).
At the present, the current exchange rate between the Yen and Dirham is 1.00 AED = 21.7418 JPY. While it may seem high you need to take into consideration the fact that while Japan has some of the best inns in the world, the inherent costs are usually twice as high as those in other countries.
For people wishing to visit the country, the best time to do so is during the winter and spring seasons in order to take full advantage of the hot spring resorts that the country is famous for.
When it comes to the local infrastructure of Japan, it is actually quite interesting to note that the Japanese utilize public transportation more so than other countries. There are actually relatively few cars within the country with a vast majority of the general public relying on the dozens of train lines, bullet trains as well as airports that the country has to offer.
To make things easier for tourists, the Japanese government has helpfully placed signs in both English and Japanese on all public methods of transportation in order to help tourists easily access various locations around the country.
It should also be noted that weekly passes can be bought at various train stations that allow travelers to utilize the trains as much as they want within the designated period on the cards. As such, for any tourist wishing to go to various locations within the country it can be done in a relatively cheap and easy manner.
Types of Tourists
(Encompasses the U.A.E, U.S., Europe and other countries)
|Regional (Within the Asian region)||Local |
|Potential Retirees |
(People looking for a permanent place to retire)
|Demographics:||Middle to high income |
30 to 55 years (middle aged)
Is usually quite stressed
2 to 3 children
|High income |
Aged 30 and above
Composed of Businessmen and entrepreneurs
Usually coming from areas such as Hong Kong, Beijing
3 – 4 children
|Low to moderate income |
Young to middle agedHigh education statusWorks within the 2 largest metropolitan areas in the country (i.e. Tokyo and Osaka)1 to 2 childrenUsually goes on vacation with a large group of friends or associates from work
|Pensioned (fixed income) |
60 years old and above
Usually composed of U.S./European retirees
2 to 3 children
|Benefits Sought:||Mid-quality hotel rooms, |
Located near the beach,
Access to public/affordable transportation
Professional hotel staff
|High quality food, |
Located right next to the beach,
Luxurious hotel rooms
Professional hotel staff
|Cheap hotel rooms, |
Convenient access to the beach
Located near affordable places to eat
Access to public transportation
|Relaxing environment, |
Low cost of living expenses,
|Shared Values:||Seeks to conform to an allotted budget for the vacation |
Focuses on a variety of outdoor activities such as surfing, diving, paragliding etc.
Thinks quite highly of the local population
|Cost is not an issue |
Seeks to derive as much enjoyment as possible from the experience
Interested in experiencing as many new things as possible
Does not think highly of the local population
|To spend as little as possible |
Focuses more on practicality rather than luxury
Enjoys taking vacations in large groups
|To find a nice quiet place to retire |
Develop good relationships with the locals
Relax for the rest of one’s life in a nice environment
|Thought Patterns:||Independent |
Open to new ideas
Sticks to preconditioned ideas regarding the local culture
Possesses a feeling of entitlement
Fear of spending too much
Open to new ideas
|Targeted By:||Mid-level hot spring resorts,||High end luxury resorts||Mid-level resorts||Small beach resorts with an attached development plan for beach front property for retirees.|
|Purpose:||To experience new activities and get away from the stress of work||To enjoy the various luxurious amenities available within the target destination.||To go out on a vacation with a group of friends in order to better connect with one another||To look for a place to retire in peace|
|Motivation:||The desire to unwind and relax||To experience what Japan has to offer||To go out with friends||To finally retire in peace|
|Buying Behavior:||Influenced by the desire to experience new activities that they otherwise would not be able to do in the countries they come from (i.e. relax on the beach, paragliding, deep sea diving etc.)||Focuses on having the best of everything throughout the entire experience. This encompasses having the best hotel rooms, the best foods, going for the most expensive activities etc.||Revolves around the desire to participate in activities as a group. This involves eating with a large group of friends, interacting with people they know and going for a variety of group based activities.||For retirees, this involves examining the country and location where they plan to retire. As such, buying behavior for this particular demographic is heavily influenced by the degree of safety and relative ease of life in their desire location.|
Tourism Contribution to Local Economy
On average, Japan brings in roughly 8.3 million tourists a year from various international locations such as the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and several countries within Asia. While tourism is not a vital part of the local economy, it still provides more than $3.5 billion dollars a year in annual income.
It must be noted though that as a direct result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster tourism in Japan has actually dropped by 25% within the past year, however, the numbers are expected to rise given that the supposed danger has passed.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration when examining the local economy of the country is the fact that a vast majority of tourism services are oriented towards local rather than international consumers.
This is evidenced by the fact that there is little in the way of significant internationalization of services which specifically cater to international clientele.
This is actually one of the impediments to increasing tourism within the country since many tourists are wary of visiting a country that does not have sufficient local services to address their concerns especially when it comes to being understood by the local populace that barely speaks English.
Evaluation of Destination Marketing
The primary strategy that has been employed by Japan has been to create partnerships with a variety of travel agencies within other countries in order to incorporate various locations within the country in their packaged tour deals.
By doing so, this has brought in almost 60% of all guests to the location during the busy and slow seasons and continues to be one of the main ways the country is able to get tourists. One of the primary reasons behind the utilization of such a strategy is due to the fact that while English is taught in various schools, it is not extensively utilized in business proceedings.
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As such, Japan has had to rely extensively on external agencies in order to promote its various tourism destinations. Not only that, compared to Europe, Australia and the Philippines there is little in the way of a sufficiently extensive online presence within social media networks for Japan.
The country does not even utilize E-commerce platforms in order to create a faster and more prudent method for international guests to make reservations and pay for rooms ahead of time.
While it may be true that this due to the fact that many of ryoukans and onsens prefer to operate utilizing “traditional” methods this just means that they are missing out on potentially tapping the a large online consumer market.
It must also be noted that the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Google + makes it a free and easy method for hotels and tourism destinations to advertise their services via satisfied liking and sharing of the page as well as through various online promotions.
It is based on this that it is recommend that various ryoukans, onsens and tourism destinations within the country setup a proper E-commerce application for future websites as well as setup a Facebook page.
By doing so this creates the potential for such establishments to access new customer bases in far off locations and make it easier for them to make a reservation and pay for their room without having to spend too much.
Comparative Analysis of Popular Tourism Destinations within the Region to Japan
|Strength||Has one of the world’s most biologically diverse marine ecosystems |
Possesses beautiful white sand beachesThe local population is known throughout the world for their hospitalityFood and hotels are relatively inexpensiveNearly everyone within the country speaks English
|Possesses a wide range of cultural traditions and historic sites that are unique to the country |
Has one of the lowest prices for hotels and food in the world
Locals are relatively kind to foreigners
|Has one of the oldest cultures in the world with a wide range of unique cultural attractions throughout the country |
Is well known for its hot springs which supposedly have restorative properties
Is one of the safest and most technologically advanced countries within the world
|Has a local culture that is understandable by most westerners |
Is well known for its beaches
Widely considered to be one of the surfing capitals of the world
Has a relatively low crime rate
|Weakness||The local armed resistance groups such as MILF and Abu Sayyaf have been known to kidnap and hold tourists for ransom |
There is rampant corruption in various sectors resulting foreigners sometimes being gouged on prices
|Is located within a region that is prone to tsunamis |
The country is known more for its lucrative red light districts that it is for its cultural attractions
Kidnapping by local criminals is a definite possibility
|It is one of the most expensive places in the world to take a vacation with prices for even basic goods exceeding the cost seen in most western countries |
The locals rarely understand English and are often afraid to interact with foreigners
|The country has hundreds if not thousands of local species that could kill a person rather quickly |
The Australian Outback is one of the most dangerous places on Earth
Due to adverse water distribution policies several areas within the country are prone to dust storms
|Opportunities||Still has a relatively underdeveloped tourism industry and as such there are numerous opportunities for expansion||Within the past few years Thailand has emerged from the tsunami disaster through large investments in its tourism industry resulting in better facilities and more affordable prices||Recent initiatives from the Japanese government to increase the number of tourists entering the country have resulted in fewer restrictions and red tape involving tourist visas||The country has slowly been building up a platform for increasing the number of tourists to the country through vigorous TV ads and online viral marketing campaigns|
|Threat||All locations indicated in this table suffer from the same problem of increased uncertainty over the current state of the global economy which has negatively impacted the number of people that willing to go on extended vacation (Hiwasaki, 675-692). Consumers have become more hesitant to go on vacations since they do not know if they will be able to continue to keep their jobs if they do so. The current prolonged recession has actually resulted in a direct slowdown of infrastructure development involving resorts within the countries indicated in this analysis and has cast doubt over the ability of the region to continue to maintain its current level of distinction which is the primary factor behind the continued decline of their tourism industries within the past few years.|
Tourism Organizational Structure
The main tourism organization within the country is the Japan Tourism Agency which basically monitors and implements the various tourism polices that apply to foreign tourists as well as local residents.
The main purpose of the agency is to promote and monitor the number of tourists that enter into the country and develop specific legislation that is subject to the approval of the main governing body of the country that is aimed at ensuring a steady flow of tourists and the income they provide for local businesses (Japan: Market Profile, 186-190).
One of the more recent actions of the agency has been the implementation of new legislation which lowers the standards and amount of requirements for foreign tourists to enter into the country (CHOONG-KI, 392-323).
The main aim of such an endeavor was to encourage even individuals with moderate to low incomes to visit the country and see the sights. It should be noted though that the Japan Tourism Agency mainly concerns itself with international tourists and does not involve tourism activities of local residents.
Security Risk and Assessment
An examination of the U.A.E travel advisory website reveals that there are currently no announcements that specifically state that there are major problems with vacationing in Japan at this moment in time.
It was noted on the website though that tourists from the U.A.E should be cautious regarding the current political climate between Japan and China due to their current island dispute.
As such, there is a possibility that increased activist protests may occur. All in all though, Japan is considered a relatively safe environment for foreign tourists and, as such, citizens of the U.A.E are free to travel there if they wish.
Underwater Scuba Diving
Considered to be one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet, Japan, particularly Okinawa island, has a wide variety of coral reefs and diving spots that have been widely praised by diving magazines and the International Diving Association as being one of the most beautiful yet also one of the safest places to see the wonders of underwater nature unfold before their very eyes.
Guests at any one of the various resorts in Japan can sign up for a rather affordable diving lesson along with supervised dives at several of the island’s best locations. These dives include an exploration of the local coral reef system, diving into various caves near one the other local islands and a moderate feeding of the local marine life.
Due to the crystal clear waters that the Japan island system are known for, guests can rent a variety of underwater cameras and equipment in order to film themselves diving and exploring the fascinating wonders in an around the island system of Okinawa.
Do note though that it is highly illegal to either capture fish or attempt to extract coral from the surrounding areas and as such guests should abide by the rules lest they get into trouble and be banned from ever diving in the waters of Japan again.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is that those who wish to take up diving lessons must already know how to swim and have a moderate level of physical strength since the tanks are quite heavy.
While the Japan does not necessarily have large mountainous areas, it does however have a variety of beautiful hiking trails where an intrepid explorer can go and visit the wonders the sparsely tree covered areas have to offer.
It is usually the case that tour groups are led by a local guide who follows a predetermined path through the hilly landscape where he/she points out a variety of interesting sights and animals.
Do note that forest exploration within Japan is not as dangerous as compared to countries such as Africa or South America for example since the country does not have any predators that would pose a danger to a hiker that is aware of his surroundings and can make a certain amount of noise to scare the creature off.
Some hikes even end in a rather exciting whitewater rafting adventure where hikers climb onto orange rafts and navigate down the river until they reach a miniature lake which often has an alternative source of water in the form of a small waterfall.
Do note though that you need to be in relatively good health and be in tip top shape in order to go hiking since it is often lasts for hours and goes through relatively tough terrain.
Japanese Hot Springs
If there is one thing Japan is famous for it is its onsens (i.e. hot spring resorts) located in areas such as Kusatsu, Shibi, Shirahone and Okuhida. These resorts cater primarily to individuals who want to experience the joys of relaxing in naturally heated (i.e. heated from the volcanic rock below) mineral rich waters (Buckley Jr. et al., 357-383).
It is often the case that onsens are open air baths within resorts that gives bathers a panoramic view of a clear night sky and the surrounding landscape.
It is usually the case that the demographic to a Japanese onsen are individuals usually within their late 30s to early 70s however there has been an increasingly large amount of younger demographics that have been trying out these hot spring resorts as of late.
The primary reason is the fact that an onsen is considered the ultimate traveler’s experience within Japan that any tourist in the country should seek out (Hall, 19).
Major Shopping Districts
While Japan has several of the world’s best shopping districts none compare to the fame of its Akihabara district. Connected with the otaku subculture of Japan, Akihabara can be considered a hub for technology, manga, and anime.
It famously has an assortment of maid cafes wherein attractive Japanese girls dress up in maid costumes and serve you while calling you “master”. The shopping district is also one of the best places in Asia to find the best discounts on electronic goods and various unique types of consumer devices (Foster, 351-372).
Lastly, it is also the primary location from which Japan’s otaku sub-culture congregates in order to trade, buy and sell all things related to manga and anime. What you have to understand is that the popularity of manga and anime has surpassed the borders of Japan and has actually reached numerous international locations such as the France, the U.S., China and even the U.A.E.
As such, Akihabara has become a prime destination for many anime and manga lovers from different countries to stock up on various figurines and toys related to their favorite series. It should also be noted that what is unique about Akihabara is that unlike other prime tourist destinations around the world, it actually lacks the presence of any major hotel chains in the area.
The primary reason behind this is due to the fact that a majority of the buildings located within the district primarily cater to the sale of consumer electronics and anime related paraphernalia.
What the area has instead are “capsule hotels, these hotels utilize a unique concept wherein instead of rooms rows of stacked man-sized capsules are placed within a room that have a bed, television and a small ventilation shaft installed inside. This type of hotel was meant to maximize on the limited amount of space within the Akihabara.
Is a major business and commercial hub within Japan that possesses dozens of malls, several of the best hotels in the world and is comparable to Los Angeles on a busy day. Overall, this city is not that unique since it shares numerous similarities with other cities all over the world and does not have the uniqueness of Akihabara.
While Japan has innumerable ecotourism destinations due to its focus on preserving natural resources and saving the environment, the most famous ecotourism destination within the country is Hokkaido Island located on the northwest part of the country (Hiwasaki, 107-126).
The reason this particular destination is considered an ecotourism hotspot is due the fact that the general environment looks like an area in Europe rather than Asia. This is due to the combination of long fields of grass, small hills dotting the landscape here and there, snow capped mountains as well as various species of trees that have white bark that do not resemble native species (Hiwasaki, 107-126).
It should also be noted that the area is home to numerous native species that are not found any other place on the Earth such as the reclusive Hokkaido fox and deer as well as various species of owls. Not only that, the design of the buildings within this particular
Business travel within Japan is facilitated easily through the use of its expansive public transportation system, its bullet train system that connects various regions of the main island (the Shinkansen) as well as through several regional airports that have 24 hour flights. Overall, travel within the country is quite easy for foreign tourists so long as you follow the necessary guides for reaching your destination (Japan: Market Profile, 186-190).
Cultural Heritage Tourism
What you have to understand is that in the case of Japan its unique cultural heritage is the main selling point of its tourism industry (FRANCIS-LINDSAY, 151-168).
As such, in regions such as Kanto, Tohoku, Chugoku, and Kansai the main tourist attractions are not the local flora or fauna, rather, it is the various traditional temples, villages and ways of life that several Japanese communities espouse that become the main selling point of such regions (FRANCIS-LINDSAY, 151-168).
For any tourist wishing to stay in Japan there are an assortment of 5 star hotels within the cities of Tokyo, Shinjuku, Osaka, Saitama and other such major areas of commerce, however, to truly appreciate a tourist experience in Japan it is highly recommended that you skip hotels and instead utilize “Ryoukans” which are the Japanese equivalent of inns.
While these areas do not utilize the same ranking system as hotels, they are considered some of the best places to stay within the country since they serve guests traditional Japanese cuisine within traditional Japanese rooms with sliding doors, tatami mats and walls made out of thick paper.
Do note though that there are no ryokans within the city since they are often found in the countryside in order to help their guests relax and appreciate nature. Several famous areas for ryokans are Tamatsukuri, Arima, Okinawa and Hokkaido due to their largely un-spoilt areas which are free from industrial development.
Major Festivals and Events
It is actually quite interesting to note that each region in Japan celebrates a variety of unique festivals that are inherent only to that particular region. This is due to various historical events, however, there are festivals such as Hanami, Tanabata, Toro Nagashi, the Shogatsu and assortment of others that universally celebrated across the various regions of the country.
A large percentage of these festivals are usually held near or on the grounds of the local Shinto shrine and, as such, is usually the best direction to head to for tourists that want to experience the full force of Japan’s festivals.
Future of Destinations
When it comes to the short and long term goals of the Japanese tourism industry, it is interesting to note that due to the current European debt crisis and the general turmoil in the global economic market it has been decided that within the short term the tourism sector of the country will continue to follow its current plan of providing high quality amenities and services at high cost however in the long term what will happen is a slow and carefully planned diversification of services in order to cater to clients that have medium to low income brackets (Hiwasaki, 675-692).
The reason behind this is quite simple, the current problems within the global economy has created a noticeable impact on hotel guests and tourists at the present wherein many have been reluctant to spend as much as they used to (Uzama, 356-365).
If this current trend continues it is likely that Japan will still continue to receive a steady stream of people however these will consist of individuals/families that would be looking for a bargain instead of luxury (Uzama, 356-365). Thus, a transition would be necessary in order to meet the demands of this new consumer market.
It was realized within the past year that if such a strategy is not implemented it is very likely that the country will see a considerable reduction in the amount of tourists that arrive. Japan has actually taken the first initial steps into this direction by lowering the visa requirements needed to enter into the country in order to encourage foreign tourism.
The current problem with the tourism market between Japan and the U.A.E is the fact that consumer spending is at an all time low due to the 2008 – 2012 (present day) economic downturn.
Unfortunately, the inherent problem with the current situation is that it creates a vicious cycle wherein low consumer spending results in companies reducing various aspects of their operational capacity (i.e. manufacturing of products, low level employees etc.) in order to remain in business which results in even lower consumer spending since people do not have jobs to support themselves anymore.
An example of the effect of such a behavior by major corporations can be seen in the Dubai wherein up to 28% percent of current construction projects have been delayed due to workforce cutbacks employed by various companies in an attempt to continue to remain viable despite lackluster local demand.
Another global factor that should be taken into consideration when examining the tourism trade of Japan is the current debt crisis in Europe that was brought about through not only the reckless actions of various banks within region (as seen in the case of Ireland) but also through government mismanagement of finances (seen in the case of Greece) and exposure to a reckless housing market (the case of Spain) which has also adversely affected domestic manufacturing within the U.S. Such factors have taken a steep toll on the airline passenger market with up to 50% of profits effectively wiped out in period immediately during the aftermath of the 2008 recession with only a marginal improvement on domestic flights. As a direct result of such issues, this has severely impacted Japan’s local tourism industry resulting in far fewer profits and the closure of several prominent tourism destinations due to lackluster demand.
Solving the Problem
Shifting to New Consumer Markets
With low consumer spending and an atmosphere of economic uncertainty which pervades the traditional markets of Japan in Europe and America there is a necessity to pursue new consumer markets in various parts of the U.A.E. As such, the following are recommended methods of increasing the popularity of the country through using social media networks:
Advertising Through Social Media: YouTube Stars
Various forms of consumable media in the form of print ads, billboards, commercials, online marketing campaigns and a plethora of other types of advertising initiatives are rife with the images of various popular individuals showing just how prevalent product endorsements are in the advertising campaigns of numerous companies.
The logic behind this particular method of advertising stems from the fact that people are more likely to purchase a product or utilize a particular service if they see someone else happily using it, studies even show that the likelihood of product patronage goes up astronomically if it is seen that a pop culture icon is utilizing a particular type of product.
This speaks volumes of the influence of pop culture on consumer buying behavior however it is also indicative of the fact that companies are aware of what causes consumers to purchase a particular product and act accordingly in order to exploit it.
Yet, the inherent problem with using popular culture celebrities is the fact that they are often quite expensive and demand millions of dollars in fees. An alternative strategy that I have devised that overcomes this particular problem utilizes YouTube stars as a means of promoting the resorts of Bohol.
On average, YouTube stars such as Ray William Johnson, Philip DeFranco, Shane Dawson, Smosh and others like them often generate millions of views per video, greater even than some shows on cable television. Furthermore, these shows are watched by a global audience encompassing countries such as the U.S., China, Russia, Australia, and various states within the European Union.
This would enable any marketing campaign that centers on the use of such YouTube stars to in effect target a wide range of consumer markets at a relatively low cost.
YouTube stars in general do not demand a lot of money for placing ads within their show; it is usually the case that by providing promotional code or a link in the description of the video the company that created an advertising contract with them usually pays on the basis on the number of clicks.
This averages to around $5,000 to $6,000 on select advertising and promotional deals; this is a vast difference when compared to the millions demanded by A-list stars within Hollywood. You also have to take into consideration the fact that YouTube stars can come from a variety of different countries wherein they have a distinct level of popularity with the local populace.
Based on this, a marketing campaign could spend half the amount of money that would normally go to an A-list star yet reach four times the intended audience demographic by utilizing a select marketing strategy devoted to using YouTube stars from specific regions that cater to the audience demographics that the campaign is attempting to appeal to.
Strategies to Consider
Sponsored Links, Promotional Codes and Banners
The best way in order to fully utilize the viewership of a YouTube star is to have them sponsor the resort by having them mention it then have them point to either a banner location on the screen, a promotional code the viewers can use to get discounts or a link in the description of the video where viewers can go and visit a website detailing the various resort packages they can avail of.
This is often the strategy Netflix uses on either the Philip DeFranco show or on EpicMealTime in order to gain a substantial amount of subscribers to their services. The same strategy can be utilized on select YouTube stars from specific regions and through multiple shows.
By examining the viewership range and what type of viewers normally watch a particular YouTube star the marketing campaign will be able to determine what star to use, how long should the promotion period last for and will be able to monitor the overall effectiveness of the campaign via the number of clicks on the link, the number of people watching the video or the sheer amount of times the promotional code is used.
Vloging a Sponsored Vacation
One potential avenue of approach is to arrange for an all expenses paid trip for the YouTube star to a select resort in Bohol where they can vlog their experience to their viewership. Vlogging is a term that is a result of combining the words “blogging” (referring to act of publishing personal thoughts and experiences online for complete strangers to read) and “video”.
The vlogs of YouTube stars often generate a substantial degree of views due to the current obsession over “reality viewing” wherein people want to watch people living their lives as it unfolds. By having YouTube stars vlog their experiences within the resort for a few days this in effect acts as type of commercial which shows cases the amenities and overall appeal of the location.
Since it comes from a personal perspective and not through a telegraphed and obviously one sided view of the resort, this in effect generates a unique appeal to the market segments that the marketing campaign is attempting to target.
It must also be noted that the YouTube stars in question could also be potentially convinced to host their shows with a live background of the resort. This enables the marketing campaign to more effectively capture a larger audience without having to increase the amount of money paid to the YouTube star since they are already on an all expenses paid free vacation.
Overall, it can be seen that Japan is a country that is rich in cultural heritage and possesses attractions that would cause a significant degree of wonder and amazement for any tourist from the U.A.E. It is truly beautiful and amazing and one that I myself would love to visit in the near future.
It must be noted though that at the present the country lacks a significant enough online presence and is still considered one of the most expensive places to take a vacation.
It is based on this that it is highly recommended that the country attempt several new ways in which it can develop its online presence, especially through social media, and devise a way that it can make its local services cheaper for tourists in order to increase the amount of foreign visitors into the country.
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