Osaka Quake Tests Japan’s Tourism Resilience
Japan’s inbound tourism growth since the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 has been phenomenal. During that very stressful year for tourism to Japan, international tourism arrival numbers plummeted to about 6 million. By contrast, in 2017 28.7 million international tourists visited Japan and for the first five months of 2018, Japan has enjoyed a growth rate of almost 13% over the 2017 levels.
The combination of some very professional destination marketing by the Japan National Tourism Organisation, coupled with Japan’s excellent reputation as an hospitable and safe destination have contributed to the steep growth in demand. Japan is actively leveraging from Tokyo’s upcoming hosting of the 2020 Olympics.
Unfortunately the news from Japan in recent days has been dominated by a large earthquake which caused extensive damage and casualties in and around Osaka. The quake, which measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale led to five confirmed deaths and 370 injuries. The quake also caused extensive infrastructure damage to roads and rail. However, as local authorities have advised, Osaka is quickly restoring all main services. Aftershocks have clearly made intending visitors nervous. Osaka is Japan’s second biggest gateway city for tourists and there is no doubt that the earthquake is a significant disrupter for Japan’s tourism industry.
Japan is one of the world’s most resilient destinations. Japanese tour operators have already made adjustments to tour itineraries to avoid danger areas most affected by the quake. Japan’s familiarity with the threat of earthquakes, means that its exacting earthquake resistant building standards and well organised emergency management practices, make it better able to cope with earthquakes than any country on earth.
At this stage, the Osaka earthquake is likely to disrupt the pace of Japan’s tourism growth for a short while. Many hotels and tours have reported some cancellations from both domestic and international tourists. In the short term, active promotion of Osaka is likely to decline but once the Japanese tourism industry feels the time is right, promotion of Osaka is expected to be intensive to stimulate recovery. In the meantime the JNTO and local tourism authorities are keeping all stakeholders updated in the status of tourism and transport infrastructure in Osaka and surrounds.
For travel industry professionals who want a full understanding of Japan’s tourism I recommend visiting the site of Japan Tourism Marketing Co. The site includes detailed statistics on Japanese tourism and is informative about tourism trends and opportunities in Japan
. The CEO, Mr Masato Takematsu is internationally recognised as a world leading authority on destination resilience.
The site is : https://www.tourism.jp/en