During its organisational review last year, Britain's national tourism agency VisitBritain purposely decided to dedicate some of its resources into three of the world's biggest economies by purchasing power in Asia in China, Japan and India.
Talking of Japan, the market continues to be a significant inbound market for the UK.
According to Keith Beecham, General Manager - Asia Pacific, VisitBritain, Japan delivers good regional and seasonal spread.
"The average spend is high and they are becoming more adventurous looking for FIT travel products. Over the last three years VisitBritain has run a "Happy Britain" consumer campaign working closely with the Japanese travel trade and non-tourism partners targeting the middle aged and empty nester segment," shared Beecham, who is scheduled to speak during EyeforTravel's inaugural Travel Distribution Japan 2008 Conference scheduled to take place in Tokyo (on 29-30 October).
According to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the contribution of Travel & Tourism to gross domestic product is expected to rise from 9.2 percent (JPY48,015.6 billion or US$438.1 billion) in 2008 to 9.7 percent (JPY63,730.3 billion or US$637.8 billion) by 2018. Real GDP growth for Travel & Tourism economy is expected to be 1.7 percent in 2008 and to average 2.7 percent per annum over the coming 10 years.
Acccording to local firm JTB, in its outlook for 2008, the company shared that the number of overseas travelers is expected to be virtually the same as the previous year, at 17.35 million (100.1%). Average expenditure per person per journey, reflecting higher fuel surcharges and the downward trend in exchange rates for the yen, will be higher, at $2,791 (100.5 percent).
From an organisation's perspective, targeting Japan, Beecham says it is critical to have a long-term commitment for this market. Beecham acknowledges that Japan remain a key market for Britain but the agency has to work harder to grow the number of outbound travelers.
He added the agency is focusing on clear marketing goals and a strong network of partners to deliver the Britain message and travel products.
In terms of challenges for VisitBritain in a market like Japan vis-à-vis other Asian countries, he said, "Japan is one of our most developed markets and the key aim is to develop attractive consumer campaigns in partnership with the Japanese and UK travel industries. Other Asian countries such as China and India are in a developing phase and the task is to build travel industry and media networks as launch pads for consumer campaigns in the future."
Commenting on profile of Japanese consumers and usage of the Internet for travel planning and booking process, he said, the Internet and increasing mobile platforms are being used by Japanese to gather information.
"Any destination needs to ensure they have a Japanese language website with relevant and interesting information. Most Japanese use a variety of information sources when looking at destinations; travel agents' brochures, magazines and newspapers, TV broadcasts, and word of mouth. The trick is to cover as much of this as cheaply as possible," said Beecham.
From travel distribution perspective, Beecham said more online channels will emerge, but the pace of this switch will disappoint some and seemingly may take longer time to evolve.
Keith Beecham, General Manager - Asia Pacific, VisitBritain is scheduled to speak during EyeforTravel's inaugural Travel Distribution Japan 2008 Conference scheduled to take place in Tokyo (on 29-30 October).