Visit Japan Campaign (ビジット・ジャパン・キャンペーン)
The Visit Japan Campaign is a promotional scheme to encourage foreign tourists to visit Japan. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plays a central part in the campaign.
The 'Visit Japan Campaign Headquarters' were founded on April 1, 2003. The head of the campaign is the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and its membership consists of relevant ministries and agencies, citizens' organizations and private companies. The Visit Japan Campaign Headquarters run PR activities abroad to encourage travel to Japan, and try to improve the facilities for foreign travelers in Japan.
In the year before the campaign was launched (2003), the number of Japanese tourists travelling abroad was 16,520,000. However the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan was 5,240,000. In order to narrow this disparity, the target is for 10,000,000 foreign visitors to visit Japan every year by 2010. The latest figures from 2007 show a record 8,340,000 foreign visitors to Japan.
In the document 'Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform, 2002' endorsed by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was given the job of designing strategies to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan.
The Ministry then produced its 'Global Tourism Strategy.'
Specifically, the 'Global Tourism Strategy' consists of the following four strategies.
Strategy to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan'
To encourage foreign tourists to visit Japan, the Ministry is to undertake research to understand the market, develop tours which satisfy the needs of the market, and then promote them overseas.
The Ministry is to make it easier to acquire a tourist visa so that it becomes more convenient for foreigners to visit Japan.
Strategy for hosting foreign travelers'
The Ministry is to prepare information for foreign tourists, such as information boards in foreign languages.
The Ministry is to foster a welcoming atmosphere in tourist areas and other places.
Strategy for developing the tourism industry'
The Ministry is to support entrepreneurs who plan to start tourism-related businesses, and assist the tourism industry to enhance cooperation amongst its members to further develop the industry.
The strategies are to be implemented by the public and private sectors working in coordination with each other. Each program is continuously monitored to ensure it meets its goals and new strategies are developed.
The Visit Japan Campaign is conducted as a part of the 'Strategy to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan'.
YOKOSO! JAPAN' is a slogan extending a welcome to foreign tourists to Japan and which forms part of the logo of the Visit Japan Campaign.
One event held as a part of the Visit Japan Campaign uses the slogan YOKOSO! JAPAN. The logo is used on various kinds of printed matter, on posters and on airplanes, and helps publicize the campaign.
The biggest event is 'YOKOSO! JAPAN WEEKS', which has been held annually since 2005.
YOKOSO! JAPAN WEEKS is held over the new year period to introduce the charms of wintertime Japan and to attract travelers from East Asian countries.
Inside Japan, the Visit Japan Campaign looks for companies to offer preferential treatment for tourists, such as discounts. Other activities include producing guides in various languages and opening call centers to create a more friendly environment for foreign tourists.
Entertainers both within Japan and abroad have been appointed as Visit Japan Campaign spokespeople and in this capacity they attend related events.
Goodwill Ambassador for the Visit Japan Campaign (since 2004): Yoshino KIMURA
Taiwan Special Representative (2003): S.H.E
Taiwan Goodwill Ambassador (2004 -2006): Chiling Lin
Taiwan Goodwill Ambassador (Since 2007): Megan Lai
USA Goodwill Ambassador (2005): PUFFY
Hong Kong Goodwill Ambassador (2005): Four Kings (Eason Chan)
Hong Kong Goodwill Ambassador (2006): Isabella Leong
Hong Kong Goodwill Ambassador (2007): Fiona Sit
YOKOSO! JAPAN supporter: v-u-den
Korea Goodwill Ambassador to the Visit Japan Campaign: Younha (2007)
Target countries and areas for promoting visits to Japan
The Visit Japan Campaign identifies the target countries and areas which have the greatest potential to increase visitors to Japan, and then holds various PR activities in line with regional or national characteristics.
2003: South Korea, Taiwan, US, China and Hong Kong
2004: UK, Germany and France added
2005: Thailand, Singapore, Australia and Canada added.
Tourist visa waiver
In 2004 Japan exempted students on school trips from South Korea and China from the need for a short term visa (tourist visa) and also waived the visa fee for students from Taiwan. The policy to exempt tourists from Hong Kong from the need for a short term stay visa was also introduced.
South Korean and Taiwanese tourists were exempted from the need for a short term visa during the 2005 World Exposition, held in Aichi, Japan in 2005. This exemption was extended, and then made permanent. With regards to China, Japan used to allow group tour visas for only three cities and five provinces, but this was then expanded to cover the whole land of China.