Terrie's Take 963 (Tourism Edition) - After Floods and Earthquakes, a Flood of Government Handouts for Tourism, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Oct 1 09:11:53 JST 2018

* * * * * * * * 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, Sep 30, 2018, Issue No. 963

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at: 

+++ After Floods and Earthquakes, a Flood of Government Handouts for 

It wasn't all that many years ago (2012) that I was commenting in 
Terrie's Take 677 about how stingy the Japanese government was with its 
tourism promotion budget, and no wonder people didn't know what a great 
destination Japan was. At that time I compared Japan's PR spend on 
inbound tourism with that of Switzerland. The Swiss spent about JPY7.2bn 
a year, while the JTA and JNTO together probably spent less than JPY2bn 
(my guesstimate).

http://bit.ly/1P6NxSg [Link to TT-677]

My how times have changed. Just this week, the government announced that 
it would be allocating JPY11.2bn in funds, five times the 2012 number, 
to help Hokkaido tourism recover from the September earthquake. A good 
chunk of these funds will be applied as a subsidy for travelers to 
Hokkaido, covering 50%~70% of lodging costs for up to 3 nights, for up 
to a total of JPY20,000 - for Japanese tourists. And 70% of the cost of 
5 nights for foreigners. In addition there will be the usual subsidies 
for road and other infrastructure repair, PLUS an extra 10% to 20% 
funding, because, well we don't know why.

In other words, a veritable flood of money.

This latest effort follows on from a similar program that was tried out 
for Kumamoto after the 2016 earthquake there, and which turned out to be 
a  hit, according to the Nikkei newspaper. Apparently the Japan Tourism 
Agency (JTA) allocated JPY18bn in recovery funds to the area in the form 
(among other things) of discounted tours, which subsequently sold out. 
The earthquake prompted 750,000 people to cancel accommodation, but the 
recovery discount program reversed those losses and came close to 
attracting 1.5m domestic and foreign tourists in the following 6 months. 
Perhaps more importantly, the discounts completely erased the projected 
post-quake deficit, which was originally estimated to be around JPY170bn.

Hokkaido now faces a similar situation to Kumamoto, although it is more 
dependent on foreign tourists (10% of foreign tourists travel to 
Hokkaido) than its southern brothers. The estimated hit on the tourist 
industry over the last 3 weeks has already reached JPY10bn, and the 
authorities say that about 500,000 travelers have canceled their stays 
in Hokkaido. Thus, if the same discount approach works, and we imagine 
the east Asian LCCs will be pushing this among their customer base, 
Hokkaido should be able to look forward to a big recovery of visitors 
over the next few months, or at least until the funds run out.

[Continued below...]

------- Portable News from SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. ---------

Travel is a chance to escape the stress and demands of daily life. But 
the world doesn't wait while we vacation, and many travelers want to 
stay in touch with what is happening back home. Mobile devices and 
streaming video have made this easier, and a new app from SKY PerfecTV 
puts the world at your fingertips while in Japan.

Delivering content in English and 12 other languages, Portable News 
brings together live news broadcasts from Australia, Congo, France, 
Germany, Indonesia, Qatar, and South Korea, as well as info about 
Japan's entertainment scene through Club TV.

In addition to programming from abroad, Portable News keeps you well 
informed during earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and other disasters 
that may occur while you are in Japan.

* iOS https://apple.co/2xvX0TH
* Android http://bit.ly/2QOV9RT
* Browsers: http://bit.ly/2QOZ8Or

[...Article continues]

In my opinion, this direct approach of funding traveler costs is a good 
thing and certainly beats other ways the government has traditionally 
handled recovery funding - such as the controversial application of 
JPY330m of the Tohoku recovery funds for repairs to a sports stadium in 
central Tokyo!

http://bit.ly/2OY6vl7 [Mis-use of Tohoko recovery funds]

What this program tells us, though, is that although the government is 
probably no less stingy than it has always been, it is applying the 
money post-disaster because it is finally recognizing that tourist 
spending is an easy economic shot in the arm, increasing local revenues 
with almost no added cost of services (other than the clean up from the 
disaster of course, but this is not a cost associated with tourists). I 
expect that this trend of strategically parachuting funds in to regional 
areas will pick up momentum because it's easy to decide (publicly 
popular) and because it bypasses deep public scrutiny, which is 
attractive to some insiders...

The idea of pinning local disaster recovery funds to foreign inbound 
tourism started back in 2012, when the newly elected Abe government 
allowed Chinese tourists to get multiple re-entry visas if they agreed 
to spend at least one night in Fukushima prefecture on their first trip. 
That program wasn't particularly successful, because after all, 
radiation is still radiation, but it did get enough takers going to more 
remote (safer) parts of Fukushima prefecture that the idea stuck.

But Fukushima has shown us that pushing out large flows of money is a 
huge temptation for those near that flow to grab some of the cash. The 
sports stadium in Tokyo was only the tip of the iceberg of Tohoku 
recovery money going where it shouldn't. Even now there are large flows 
of money into dubious projects up North and elsewhere which under normal 
budgeting processes would never be allowed. For example, I heard (so 
it's a rumor) of a business owner who set up a paper company in 
Fukushima in order to score a JPY70m loan that was subsequently diverted 
abroad. If true, and this is probably not an isolated case, it shows how 
weak the checking process is by the government.

Now that the idea has gone mainstream, what I think comes next is an 
expansion of the tourism-funds-for-sympathy initiatives to more general 
causes, such as helping to kickstart regions which are stuck in an 
economic black hole because of declining population and taxes. If I'm 
right, this diversification of fundings will start flowing from next 
year and be yet another uncontrolled flow of public money. Perhaps the 
Olympics training host towns is a good example of how loose the recovery 
connection will need to be.

This funding trend also tells us a second thing, which is that the 
government has lost its fear of applying money to "soft" activities in 
the tourism sector. I suspect this is because travel-related bureaucrats 
are already counting with glee the windfall that they will achieve 
through the new departure tax. You'll recall in TT-943, that I covered 
the the fact that Japan would be receiving JPY1,000 per person leaving 
the country. That means in 2019, when the tax starts, roughly JPY35bn 
for foreign tourists and JPY17bn for Japanese ones - i.e., over JPY52bn, 
will be looking for a home. The money is supposed to be spent on 
improving tourism, and my guess is that the application of it will be 
tenuous. Tons of paper brochures, websites no one can find, parties, new 
museums, road beautification, FAM tours, market research that is 
ignored, WiFi in tiny towns, road signs in English in the wilderness, 
consulting fees for old boys, more parties... the list will be endless.

Not a penny for actual small businesses looking after tourists, though - 
because that would be a possible mis-use of public funds.

...The information janitors/


--------- Japan Travel Corporate Travel Services ----------

Japan Travel's Type-2 licensed travel agency business is one Japan's few 
independent foreign-owned inbound DMCs. One of our specialties is 
looking after corporate groups of 10-300 people. To date we have 
assisted in the successful holding of training events, incentive travel, 
conferences, off-sites, and team bonding programs. We have looked after 
the full gamut of services, such as: international air travel, hotels, 
local travel, event logistics and venues, entertainment, 
micro-management of dietary needs, and special needs customers.

We are highly motivated and are happy to work in a variety of roles 
tailored to suit your needs: as a full-fledged corporate travel agency 
partner, as a logistics partner for a particular issue, or as a source 
of innovative experiences and venues. Looking after hard-to-please 
high-tech groups is our specialty!

For corporate travel assistance, contact us at: tours at japantravel.com.
Or visit our pages at: http://japantravel.co.jp/en/about/travel-agency/


SUBSCRIBERS: 6,094 members as of Sep 30, 2018 (We purge our list regularly.)


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

HELP: E-mail Terrie-request at mailman.japaninc.com with the word 'help' in 
the subject or body (don't include the quotes), and you will get back a
message with instructions.

Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the editor to 
terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com.

For more information on advertising in this newsletter, contact 
ads at japaninc.com.

Get Terrie's Take by giving your name and email address at 
http://www.japaninc.com/newsletters/free_sign_up, or go straight to
Mailman at: http://mailman.japaninc.com/mailman/listinfo/terrie

http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take or, 

Copyright 2018 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.

----------------- Japan Inc opens up Japan ----------------

J at pan Inc authoritatively chronicles business trends in Japan. Each 
posting brings you in-depth analysis of business, people and technology
in the world's third largest economy.

Visit www.japaninc.com for the best business insight on Japan available.

More information about the Terrie mailing list