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  • Kristie Wong

    Kristie Wong

    Marketing Specialist

    Contributor. Currently based in Tokyo. A third culture kid from Australia, Hong Kong and San Francisco. Lover of social technology and pop culture, and always excited for a good brand story.

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  • Feb 10, 2015


2015 Travel Trends & Statistics: Outbound Japanese Tourism

In Asia, Japan is ranked just behind China in terms of the number of outbound travelers. There were more than 17 million Japanese tourists traveling abroad in 2013, and of that, 3.7 million travelled to the US, representing nearly 22% of all outbound travelers. The US is the most popular international destination for Japanese travelers, just surpassing China in 2012. Other popular destinations for Japanese tourists include South Korea, Italy, France, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Given the significant number of Japanese travelers abroad, especially to the US, we researched and analyzed some key Japanese tourism statistics and put together a few ways for companies in the tourism industry to target Japanese tourists in their marketing strategy. We focused in particular on Japanese tourists from two life stages: 65+ and retirees and women in their 20s.

65+ and Retirees

Definition: Senior professionals and retired men and women


Photo by: Patrick

In 2012, the first of the postwar baby boomer generation started to reach the age of 65, and since then, the number of fully retired baby boomers has continued to increase. Given the increasing number of retirees, this has led to an increase in domestic and overseas travel among seniors.

Although it might seem immediately obvious that older generations browse and purchase online less, there’s actually still a significant portions of 65+ senior citizens in Japan who use the internet regularly. In fact, this figure has nearly doubled in the span of five years, between 2008 and 2012, from 37.6% to 62.7%.

This means that although there should be added focus on print and traditional media when targeting older generations, advertisers shouldn’t neglect digital platforms either, and should instead try to integrate online and offline campaigns better.

Key features of this segment:

  • Don’t look for travel information on the internet as often and are more reluctant to book online
  • Tend to use Yahoo! more than Google
  • Primary information discovery is via word of mouth and printed media
  • Quality of information and presentation by travel agent is very important as travel agents have a large influence on purchase
  • Customer service expectations are the highest out of all segments
  • Quality of food is a strong influencer of destination choice

Key actions for reaching this segment:

  • Transit ads: Target urban transit lines that serve areas with high concentration of retirees.
  • Print ads: Newspaper and magazine ads in publications with a high proportion of older readers
  • Pamphlets and brochures: Work with travel agencies to place posters, brochures and pamphlets in agency office
  • Web: Make the move from online search to offline booking more seamless by providing location-specific pages
  • Influencer marketing: Center campaign around demographic appropriate celebrity performer (e.g. older singer or comedian)

Women in their 20s

Definition: Working women and housewives in their 20s


Photo by: Tokyoform

Although women in their mid-30s are generally thought to be the keenest on overseas travel, a survey done in 2009 revealed surprising results. When asked about leisure activities they would like to pursue, women across all income groups and ages (from 20 to 60) on average ranked “overseas travel” at the top. When split by age group for overseas travel, those in their 20s and 60s turned out to be the keenest on traveling. Thus, we will now look at the overall key features of women in their 20s as a segment.

Key features of this segment:

  • This segment sees a higher rate of online purchases than other groups – 68% order tickets online and 80% reserve hotels online
  • Mobile devices are the primary device used for information discovery
  • This segment responds well to visually attractive marketing materials when it comes to selecting hotels

Key actions for reaching this segment: 

  • Transit ads: Target urban transit lines that serve downtown working areas since as Roppongi
  • Print ads: Fashion magazines still enjoy high circulation and are a great way to target specific segments of female readers depending on the magazines demographic
  • Web: Improve mobile experience since many in this segment use their phones to find information about travel
  • PPC: Run targeted ads online for this demographic since discovery and purchase are done primarily online
  • Influencer marketing: Form partnerships with major female influencers to promote your travel destination

Moving Forward

Despite falling in and out of recession in the past three years, Japanese overseas tourism is projected to grow in the next ten years. In 2012, when the yen rose to record levels, the number of overseas travelers reached an all-time high of 18.49 million, or around 150 times the 1964 figure. The increase of direct flight routes by popular airlines such as JAL and ANA as well as lowering costs of flying are expected to contribute to increased overseas travel. In fact, a survey has found that Japanese people are preferring to travel overseas in spite of economic recession.

Although Japanese outbound tourism is expected to grow slower relative to neighboring countries (especially China), they’re still one of the largest groups of tourists outside of Asia and cannot be overlooked.

Photo by: Peter Lee


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