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Shifting International Travel Patterns to Japan

29, January 2009

Niseko in Hokkaido, Northern Japan is experiencing swelling numbers of wealthy overseas tourists from countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Resorts in the area have focused marketing efforts on high net-worth individuals from these areas who remain less affected by the current financial crisis.

In contrast to this, the Nagasaki area on Japan's southern Island of Kyushu has seen international tourist numbers fall. Middle class tourists from Korea usually make up the bulk of international visitors the area, but local hotels and resorts have seen their numbers fall. This is thought to be largely due to the substantially weakened value of the Korean Won versus the Yen. Most Korean visitors to the Nagasaki area arrive by a high-speed ferry link. Last year 14,000 Koreans made the trip to Nagasaki via this route. This year, however, the rate is off significantly.

The Oita region of Kyushu, known for it's hot spring resorts, has also reported the number of Korean tourist are down substantially compared to last year.

The different experiences of these two regions may be the result of their marketing strategies. Resorts and hotels in Hokkaido appear to still be experiencing growth because they've concentrated recent efforts on attracting tourists that are less sensitive to the economic downturn. Hotel and resort operators in areas such as Nagasaki and Oita could also benefit from analyzing their current customer base and adjusting their approach to suit current economic conditions. Exploring new markets, focusing on new customer segments, and using specialized marketing and advertising tactics to reach a specific target are good approaches to maintaining a steady customer base.

January 29, 2009

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