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Japan’s Doorway Opens Straight From Chennai

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In 2018, Japan witnessed 1,54,029 Indian travellers who visited Japan. Keeping up with this growth trajectory, Japan has already witnessed a 14.4% increase in the period of January to October 2019 with 149,300 Indian visitors to Japan.

Visa and entry rules to Japan for the Indian nationals have always been very easy. Single entry and multiple entry visas are available for Indian nationals. Single entry visa comes with a validity of 90 days. The process of Indians visiting Japan remains hassle-free. (For more information, please visit: https://www.in.emb-japan.go.jp/visa%20info.html)

We have definitely increased our market spend in the Indian market considering the potential it holds. India is one of the fastest-growing outbound tourism markets and we aim to create as much as awareness as we can, and not lose this opportunity. To achieve this, we are taking part in numerous joint promotional activities with the biggest stakeholders in the Indian travel fraternity. We are also collaborating with Airline partners to promote Japan directly or via connecting destinations with them.

In addition, we are also advertising in trade and consumer media to create 360-degree awareness. To give the travel agents and Journalist a firsthand experience, we are also organizing group familiarization trips to Japan. In March 2019, we took a few wedding planners to Okinawa in Japan for the recce of Okinawa prefecture for Indian weddings. We took them across some of the most beautiful and untouched beach locations of Asia. After receiving a positive response from Indian wedding planners, we planned to organize a seminar only for Indian Wedding Planners community.

Among Indian Traveller Hokkaido is now getting popular. People in India tend to visit Europe during the winter vacation to experience charismas and snow activities but Japan has also a various option for winter. Especially Hokkaido can also offer the powder snow and various snow activities like skiing and snowboarding.

There has been in a huge shift in the way Indians choose to holiday. They are now open to newer experience be it adventure, food or the way choose to relax. We see a lot of Indians opting to experience our cuisine. Trying different types of food have become a fashion now, today when youngsters are well travelled; they are more open to new things. As a result, there is more demand for these cuisines. Many restaurants have also played with ingredients to make authentic Japanese cuisine more acceptable to Indian taste buds like introducing more vegetarian variant.

The most intriguing part which sets us apart from the other destinations is that we are an all-year-round destination. While an average Indian traveller is merely informed about the cherry blossom season and the world-famous Golden route including Hiroshima, we also have few other routes namely- The Alpine route, Autumn Foliage route (Golden Route in Autumn season), Hokkaido route, and Tohoku route which are now catching up in India. Each one of them is exciting in its own way and captures the beauty of the different season in Japan. While the technology in Japan is known to be ahead of some countries in the world, it is still a culturally inclined destination known for its humble people.

Although the destination keeps receiving numerous accolades across the world, Japan was recently awarded as the favourite emerging overseas destination within the Indian travellers by Condé Nast Traveller Magazine at the Readers Travel Awards 2019. Not only that, but Tokyo also received the best international food destination by Travel and Leisure India and South Asia Magazine at the Reader’s Choice India’s Best Awards 2019.

What has been a highlight for this year is the organic marketing of the destination through celebrities visiting Japan for their holidays and sharing content on their respective social media accounts thereby creating a buzz. This year itself, we had Sonam Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, Radhika Apte, and many others who visited Japan. Their pictures were not only circulated amongst various media channels but all their posts beautifully showcased the destination.

While cherry blossom always tops the chart but one can’t give magnificent Mount Fuji a miss. Tokyo is the advanced party haven for the ones looking for adventure. Kyoto on the other side is the cultural capital of Japan housing numerous temples dating back to around the 8th century. Osaka in Japan has modern architecture and delicious food, straight-talking, friendly locals. If you are looking for a relaxed beach holiday then head out to Okinawa which houses one of the finest resorts with numerous water sport activities. To soothe your body and soul take a relaxing dip in the hot water springs in Japan which are also known as Onsen. You also wouldn’t know that Japan has the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants for a gastronomical experience. (What always surprises an Indian traveller is the humbleness and hospitality of the Japanese people).

For the year 2020 major tourism boards and brands are concentrating on collaborations and how they can gain from each other’s support. We will take forward our 2019 strategies in a more robust way. There are few new campaigns which are still in the discussion phase, information of which can’t be rolled out yet.

JNTO is concentrating on the priority markets while educating travel agents through seminars, trade shows, and integrated media-mix for B-B and B-C markets. We support the Corporate and MICE movement, especially incentive tour, with Special incentive schemes along with local assistance available via our Delhi office staff. Continuous improvements to our e-learning program contents and pushing travel agents to complete the e-learning modules are just one of our focus areas. The outbound travel from top Indian Cities is not only booming, but their travel spend is also huge. India is a huge country, strategically speaking; therefore connectivity also plays an important role. From October 27 All Nippon Airways started its direct flights from Chennai to Japan. Subsequently, on 30 2020 Japan Airlines will start a direct flight from Bengaluru to Tokyo. This is the first time the Southern part of India will get direct access to Japan and of course, encouraging more Indian travellers to Japan. Needless to say, we are getting a phenomenal response from the travellers in the South India market.

As a part of our overall robust plan, JNTO is also creating awareness through joint promotion activities as well as one-on-one interactions with the key travel agents in the focused markets. These travel agents are then churning out a completely nice and tempting package for Japan to sell across categories to Indian Travelers. In August we also wrapped up our annual two city roadshows in Mumbai and Ahmedabad which got us phenomenal feedback. Our India office is also participating in Outbound Travel Mart 2020 in Mumbai to make stronger relations with the trade. Our extended plan is to educate and create awareness among Indian travellers. To equip this, we are carrying out numerous familiarization trips for the trade as well as media to give them firsthand experience.

Social media has also become extremely crucial for any brand or destination. We have created a separate Facebook page for our Indian market which is extremely informative and active. Through it, we have been running multiple contests and awareness post which have been appreciated by the Indian travellers. They seem to be engaged and have been sharing their experiences from Japan. For many, Japan has become their next dream travel destination whereas others have already visited the destination through our surreal and visually compelling posts.

This year we have definitely witnessed a spike in the MICE movements from India to Japan. There are numerous Japanese companies in India who hold annual meetings, seminar and tours around their facilities which also helps the tourism sector. With Japan being the technological leader of the world, there are many companies which visit the destination to motivate their employees and derive new ideas from the innovation here. This year itself, we started promoting the Okinawa region of Japan as a wedding destination in the Indian market. To start at the grass-root level we took a few significant wedding planners to the destination to give them firsthand experience. Post which we held a wedding seminar in Delhi to educate few other wedding planners about Okinawa’s potential.

We are hoping that in the coming months we witness the same kind of influx. For the year 2020, we are planning to go all out in the Indian market in terms of joint promotion activities with the biggest travel aggregators. We will also be penetrating in South Indian market and educating the agents about the destination. Festivals in Japan are celebrated with great pomp and show. Although Christmas is more of a western festival, yet some of their customs are also found in Japan but slightly in a different way. Christmas in Japan means illuminated cities by magnificent installations. On Christmas Eve, couples plan a romantic date at a special restaurant, or they stroll down the town to view Christmas lights in different areas. Churches in major cities in Japan have midnight Christmas mass. The clubs and pubs in Japan are bustling with great music and themed parties for Christmas and New Year.

There are 3 daily direct flights from Delhi to Japan, which are Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Air India. From Mumbai, there is one daily direct flight of All Nippon Airways whereas even Chennai just recently started one daily direct flight to the destination. In 2020 Japan Airlines will also commence one daily direct flight from Bengaluru to Tokyo. Apart from that, there are airlines like Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and Cathay Pacific for a hassle-free travel.

 

South India and particularly Chennai is extremely important for JNTO. W After realizing the need for a direct flight from such an important market, ANA kick-started their daily operations in October. Not only this, our national carrier JAL would be starting a direct flight from Bangalore to Japan in March 2020. JNTO also carried out one FAM trip in August for the travel agents in Chennai and Bangalore to give them a first-hand experience. In September, JNTO and ANA took another set of agents from the Chennai market to Japan just before the launch of ANA’s direct flight to Japan. In fact, Japan Expo is the first-ever B to C event in Chennai hosted by Consulate General of Japan in Chennai The momentum of the visit to Japan has increased as ANA entered service on October 27. JNTO is also conducting an invitation business with ANA and joint advertising in the coming future.

For JNTO, our audience would be an evolved traveller who is looking for the next travel destination. He/She is well informed and well-travelled. The age group of our target audience is people ageing from 30 to 50. We are also planning to target millennials who have great spending power and are taking around 2-4 vacations in a year. In addition, we are also targeting the senior citizens above 50s who prefer the group tour.

We hold seminars or closed-door meeting in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Chennai to educate the travel agents. We also have a great learning experience on our website called the Japan specialist program. The program entails different categories which include engaging illustrations and videos of the destination. Further to summarize, each module will end with a rewarding quiz which informs you how well you know the destination. We are now having an award for the successful applicant to Japan Specialist Program and will announce the winner at the OTM. 1 Prize winner have a chance to WIN A FREE FAM TRIP TO JAPAN.


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