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The Japan Travel Bureau Foundation (President: Yasuo Suenaga, “JTBF” hereinafter) and Development Bank of Japan Inc. (President and CEO: Hajime Watanabe, “DBJ” hereinafter) jointly published a survey report entitled “DBJ and JTBF: Survey of Tourist Travel to Japan from Asia, Europe, the United States, and Australia (FY2020 Special Survey on the Level of the Effects of COVID-19).”

Since 2012, DBJ has been regularly conducting an internet questionnaire survey of experienced travelers, with the objective of grasping travel preferences and changing needs and within the context of the respondents having or not having previous experience traveling in Japan. Currently twelve areas are targeted, with eight being in Asia and the other four consisting of the United States, Australia and two European countries. The eight areas of Asia—South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia—were the original target group. The United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and France were added as another group of survey subjects beginning in 2016. DBJ has conducted the survey jointly with the JTBF since 2015.

In order to study the effects of COVID-19 on foreign travelers’ desire to travel abroad and to travel to Japan, a special edition of the questionnaire survey was implemented June 2–12, 2020, and attracted 6,266 respondents with overseas travel experience from the 12 areas in Asia, Europe, the United States, and Australia.
The major points deduced from the survey results are as follows.

  • There is an extremely strong desire to travel overseas after the COVID-19 pandemic winds down. Many respondents, especially Asian, selected “rest and relaxation” or “experiences,” among other motives, and a relatively large number of respondents answered that they would increase their budgets and the number of days in their stays.
  • Japan continues to be highly popular as a country where people want to go sightseeing after the pandemic abates. It is the top choice of respondents in Asia and the second most popular choice of those in Europe, the United States, and Australia. Given current heightened concern about the spread of infection, Japan’s strong reputation in terms of “hygiene and cleanliness” was revealed to be a big reason that Japan stands out among other countries as a desired destination for travel.
  • Based on these results, it seems that Japan should leverage its strong reputation for hygiene and cleanliness to bolster the already high desire for travel to Japan after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. It is also essential to focus on meeting travelers’ desires for rest and relaxation and for experience-based tourism, bearing in mind that the pent-up demand for overseas travel is raising expectations that tourists’ plans will include both higher budgets and longer lengths of stay.