Terrie's Take 796 (Tourism Edition) -- Active Volcanoes Versus Tourist Murders

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Mar 23 01:41:15 JST 2015

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S (TOURISM) TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie 
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. 

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, March 22, 2015, Issue No. 796

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+++ Active Volcanoes Versus Tourist Murders

In a dreadful event last week, three Japanese were killed and three more 
wounded after Islamic State terrorists targeted a group of foreign 
tourists alighting buses for the famous Bardo National Museum in Tunis. 
In total 17 tourists and two locals were killed, and the event has 
shocked both nations. It will most likely set back tourism, an important 
earner of foreign exchange for Tunisia, by a decade or more. Indeed, for 
Japanese luxury tourism, because all six Japanese victims were on a 
7-night luxury cruise of the Mediterranean, it may kill the sector dead.

If the Egyptian experience after the 1997 Luxor massacre of 58 tourists, 
including 10 Japanese, is anything to go by, it took about 10 years for 
Japanese travel to that country to recover. Unfortunately, just as 
things got back on track, the revolution and accompanying safety 
concerns caused numbers to plummet again. This time, though, not just 
for Japanese tourists. Things are so bad in Egypt that between 2010 and 
now, tourism revenues have fallen a massive 95%, to just US$15m 
annually, setting off a wave of unemployment and company closures.

These overseas tragedies remind us just how lucky we are with public 
safety in Japan, and how Japan should be selling itself as a safe 
destination for international tourists wanting somewhere exotic to go. 
Male or female, you can venture out just about anywhere day or night and 
feel safe. There are not many destinations that you can go to without 
fear of robbery, assault, traffic accidents, or something much worse. 
Tourists are vulnerable and easy targets, especially if you're a single 
female, you don't speak the language, or you're an older or frail 
person, and I have to believe that being able to travel without fear has 
some value. I just returned from a business trip to Thailand, which 
pulls in an amazing 25m-30m tourists a year, and yet the country is 
getting a reputation as one of the most dangerous Asian countries to 
travel to. Certainly I thought twice about going into certain areas at 

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Actually, comparing Thailand to Japan is interesting, because although 
overall Thailand gets a lot more tourists, it attracts about the same 
number of American tourists that Japan does (826,350 versus 891,600 
annually). This is important because handily the US State Department 
tracks its citizens' non-natural fatalities by country. What the US data 
shows is that there were 43 non-natural deaths of American tourists in 
Thailand in 2013 versus just 8 in Japan. Of these, the leading causes of 
death were 20 auto deaths, 12 suicides, and 3 homicides. In Japan by 
comparison, there was 1 auto death, 6 suicides, and no murders. For 
Americans at least, Japan appears to be five times safer and only twice 
as depressing.

So how does one appeal to tourists on the basis of Japan's reputation 
for safety?

I think the PR strategy would need to take two tracks. The first and 
most obvious would be to line up Japan against a number of other tourist 
destinations in Asia, and publicize some of the resulting numbers. This 
would need some serious lifting by the Stats Bureau, since the safety 
numbers pertaining to tourists don't appear to be publicized anywhere -- 
probably because the number of incidents is so low. But at least some of 
the major categories should be covered: murder, assault (particularly 
rape), robbery, auto accidents, other accidents, suicides and the like. 
In most cases, we suspect that Japan would tie with Singapore and Korea 
as safe destinations, although interestingly more foreign tourists 
suicide in Korea: 9 versus 6 in Japan. Both countries enjoy similar inflows.

The second track would be a more audacious effort to differentiate Japan 
vis-a-vis Singapore and Korea, and probably is not a natural thought 
process for Japanese tourism authorities. I'd introduce some risky 
travel activities/destinations that can't be easily experienced in 
either Singapore or South Korea, but which can be enjoyed safely if 
managed properly. A good example would be Hokkaido's spectacular 
off-piste skiing, which could be managed by allocating budget for 
drones, guides, and wardens who rate and manage each area. Another, 
would be deep water diving with dolphins and whales in the Ogasawara 
Islands far to the south of Tokyo.

Still another, and perhaps the most spectacular would be journeying to 
active volcanoes such as Sakurajima just south of Kagoshima. Last week a 
German photographer/videographer, Marc Szeglat, shot rare photos and 
video of pyroclastic lightning at the volcano and one channel on 
Youtube.com that shows the video has had 330,000 views in the 6 days 
since. That's pretty good viral marketing, and the footage is so good I 
want to go there and see it for myself...!

* http://bit.ly/1HmHFo7 (Hokkaido off-piste skiing)
* http://bit.ly/1BGKPe3 (Ogasawara whales)
* http://bit.ly/1EGgxwK (Sakurajima eruption)

...The information janitors/


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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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