Survey reveals Japan as the top travel destination for Southeast Asians, but not for Westerners

Japan’s alluring contrast of tradition and contemporary has made it a fantastic getaway destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in country known worldwide for anime, video games and cuisine.

And thanks to the 2020 Olympic Games looming on the horizon, the country attracted a record number of tourists in 2017, totaling a whopping 28.69 million people. Chinese (7.35 million) and South Korean (7.14 million) travelers claimed the top spots, but according to the survey, only a paltry 3 million tourists hailed from Western countries.

Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency, Akihiko Tamura, notes that visitors from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia associate Japan with Mount Fuji, temples and cherry blossoms. For long periods of stay however, Akihiko laments that visitors find the country to be utterly boring.

Based on those findings, Japan Tourism Agency has begun working toward polish up the country’s image to be more appealing in order to attract more sightseers from Western countries.

They’ve found that several factors could have contributed to the apparent lack of visitors from Western countries, including long travel distances and the general perception that Japan is an expensive country to visit.

Nevertheless, those reasons pale in comparison to what is probably the biggest obstacle preventing Westerners from enjoying Japan to its fullest: the language.

Due to language similarities, tourists from China, South Korea and Taiwan have an easier time navigating Japan. However, for English-speaking tourists who struggle to comprehend what’s available on restaurant menus or understand the historical significance of a 100-year-old shrine, much of what Japan has to offer is essentially locked away behind a steep language barrier.

English education over here in Japan, while compulsory, has not taken off as much as in other nations. Addressing this issue would likely be key in drawing in more visitors from Western countries in the long run.

Source: Reuters Japan, Diamond Online via My Game News Flash

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