Director Shimizu Yuichi Sets Ambitious Goals for Japan’s Tourism in Korea
Recently, the Japan National Tourism Organization’s Korean Office welcomed its new Director, Shimizu Yuichi. With Japan continuously grabbing attention as a top destination, particularly after the reopening of the tourism sector following the COVID-19 pandemic, an exclusive interview was conducted to delve into the world of Korean travelers and their experiences.
In a conversation with Korea Travel News, Director Shimizu Yuichi shared insights into his career journey and shed light on the factors driving Japan’s popularity among Korean outbound tourists.
Director Shimizu Yuichi’s extensive background in national and local government tourism policies and regional development projects spans over a decade. Notably, his impactful experiences in Okinawa and Tohoku have shaped his current endeavors. He expressed his ardent desire to share the pride and accomplishments of the people he has encountered throughout Japan with the Korean audience.
Japan’s unrivaled position as the most sought-after destination for Korean outbound tourists can be attributed to several key factors. Director Shimizu Yuichi highlighted the rapid recovery of international air routes between Korea and Japan, with a substantial 80% route recovery rate as of May 2023 compared to 2019, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Additionally, the continued depreciation of the yen has played a significant role in attracting Korean tourists. Furthermore, the psychological recovery of Korean travelers, who have faced prolonged travel restrictions, and the success of tailored initiatives like the Visit Japan (VJ) project have further bolstered Japan’s appeal.
Despite the trend of more Korean tourists visiting Japan than Japanese tourists visiting Korea, Director Shimizu Yuichi acknowledged the existence of certain challenges. He noted that, in the short term, varying levels of concern about the novel coronavirus infection between Koreans and Japanese might contribute to this disparity. Since taking office in Seoul, he has personally observed the contrasting levels of caution towards COVID-19 among Koreans and Japanese. While Japan has relaxed its quarantine measures since October 2022, allowing international travel to resume, there is still a prevalent perception among the Japanese that COVID-19 remains a significant concern.
When asked about future marketing initiatives and promotional plans, Director Shimizu Yuichi unveiled a comprehensive strategy. The ongoing Visit Japan (VJ) project will continue, with a special emphasis on “Sustainable Tourism” as the common theme for the next three years. Within the framework of sustainable tourism, key focus areas will include “Consumption Generation” and “Promotion of Local Tourism.” Additionally, the upcoming Osaka-Kansai World Expo 2025 will be a prominent event to promote. Director Shimizu Yuichi also expressed a commitment to fostering improved Korea-Japan relations across various fields, including tourism, as Japan enters a new era.
In a closing remark, Director Shimizu Yuichi shared his determination to contribute wholeheartedly towards a prosperous future, quoting, “Even if we know that dawn is approaching, if we don’t open our eyes, it is still the depths of the night.”
We extend our heartfelt appreciation to Director Shimizu for graciously providing thoughtful responses despite his demanding schedule. His demonstrated understanding and preparedness for the Korean market, even within a short period, inspire confidence in the future of the Japan National Tourism Organization’s Korean Office under his leadership.
By Jungchan Lee/Koea Travel News