Leaders June 2015

Tourism boom promises economic growth

Potential effects of global sporting events

In September 2014, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ) hosted a ceremony to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and VisitBritain for the mutual exchange of experience and information in the field of tourism.

The development of tourism in Japan has the potential to make a significant contribution to economic growth, and will be crucial in maximising the opportunities related to the global sporting events to be hosted here in 2019, 2020 and 2021: the Rugby World Cup, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Kansai World Masters Games.

It was, therefore, a great honour to welcome JNTO President Ryoichi Matsuyama back to the BCCJ on 9 June to discuss the strategies underlying the rapid increase in inbound tourist numbers, and JNTO’s plans for the future.

Insight from new tourism report

This positive outlook is also documented in a recent 2015 report by the World Economic Forum that ranks Japan ninth in the world for tourism competitiveness.

It will come as no surprise that Japan’s fine performance is underpinned by its outstanding treatment of customers, for which the report ranks Japan number one in the world.

Other familiar strengths include Japan’s rich cultural resources, “unique cultural heritage”, and efficient ground and air transport infrastructure.

An area where the country performs less well, however, is “tourist service infrastructure”.

This metric measures factors such as the availability of ATMs that accept Visa cards, and the presence of major car rental firms. In practice, however, any negative impact from a dearth of major car rental operations is perhaps more than offset by the country’s excellent system of public transport!

Past the post

The Knights in White Lycra have so far raised almost ¥6.2mn from their recent 500km cycle ride from Tokyo to Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, in support of projects in the Tohoku region.

Congratulations to all those involved—including two stalwarts from the BCCJ Executive Committee, Graham Davis and Richard Thornley.

Lend your support

According to Paul Dolan, professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, helping someone else is one of five ways to be immediately happier.

So, if you are looking for that feel good factor, visit the Community pages of the BCCJ website. There you will find details of our Books for Smiles programme, which supports young people leaving social welfare facilities in Japan.

Also featured is a speech contest organised this month by our project partner, not-for-profit organisation Bridge for Smiles. The contest stars participants of the Canayell programme, which supports young people leaving care to graduate from colleges and universities.

Buy a ticket, be inspired by the dreams of the young people—and feel good about yourself.