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  4. A Tourism Strategy for Vitalizing Regional Economies.”Plus Tokyo”

2015 Vol.2,3
A Tourism Strategy for Vitalizing Regional Economies.”Plus Tokyo”

Promoting International Tourism with Olympic-Related Cultural Programs


The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo is anticipated to provide a tailwind for increasing tourism to Japan. At the time of the London Olympics, there was a tourism campaign called London Plus. The campaign was conducted by the United Kingdom’s national tourism agency and was intended to encourage foreign tourists to visit not only London, but also one or two additional cities. The Japan Tourism Agency seems to be considering following London Plus and pursuing a Tokyo version, a strategy called Tokyo Plus. However, according to estimates of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, there is a high risk that the number of foreign visitors will exceed the capacity of the Narita and Haneda airports in 2020 and the subsequent years. Also, according to estimates of the Development Bank of Japan, if the number of foreign visitors to Japan becomes close to the government’s target (20 million people in 2020), the demand for accommodations in Tokyo in 2020 is expected to exceed supply. Based on these estimates, one can envisage a measure to achieve the target number of foreign visitors by encouraging them to proactively enter Japan at regional airports (not Narita or Haneda) and to stay in regional cities. In other words, instead of inviting tourists to Tokyo and encouraging subsequent visits to additional places, Japan should pursue a strategy, possibly called Plus Tokyo, in which visitors are encouraged to go directly to regional cities; then, their visit to Tokyo for events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is supported by domestic transportation systems. In implementing the Plus Tokyo strategy in regional cities throughout Japan in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, cultural programs in those cities are expected to play an important role as attractions for tourists staying locally.