Less than ten years ago, more than a million seats were available on air travel between Australia and Japan. Now, says Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) president Ryoichi Matsuyama, the number stands at around 620,000 and represents the “major challenge” facing tourism to Japan from down under.
“It’s always a chicken and egg situation,” Mr Matsuyama told e-Travel Blackboard on a recent visit to Australia, referring to a parallel fall in two-way tourism numbers over the past decade of 50 percent.
According to the JNTO boss, more than ten years ago, bilateral visitor numbers stood at nearly 1 million. Since then however, two-way travel has been ”gradually going down”, with numbers dropping to around 500,000; currently, some 340,000 Japanese tourists visit Australia each year, while around 160,000 Aussies travel to Japan.
But in order to increase bilateral travel to the levels of ten years ago, which Mr Matsuyama says is possible, carriers would need to firstly significantly up capacity.
“The real challenge is how to persuade airlines to provide more seats,” he said.
“It’s up to their commercial decision but we try to persuade them to increase. Then, as soon as these seats are available, these customers will come back.”
Despite the recent decline in visitor numbers, Australia still represents the sixth largest source market for inbound Japanese tourism, accounting for 2.6 percent of international travel to the country.
Mr Matsuyama was in Sydney to promote the launch of the Australia-Japan Tourism Exchange Year 2013.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H