Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 575,000 7.3%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $1,173 million 11.4%
California Market Share (2014) 16.1% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 7.3 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) 110 2.3%
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) 28,070 -0.5%
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 579,000 3.9%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 651,000 16.9%

Source: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, CIC Research, Tourism Economics, OAG

* Visitor volumes: The U.S. Department of Commerce started to count one-night visitors in 2014. This change inflated Yr/Yr visitation gains compared to previous years but delivers a more accurate picture of total visitation.

** Visitor spending: The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis made changes to their methodology in 2014 to include spending by students, temporary workers, and people traveling for reasons related to their health. Although this change increased total travelers, some Yr/Yr declines in spending per visitor have been seen which are more likely related to the gaining strength of the US dollar vs. foreign currencies in the 4th quarter of 2014.

Visitor Spending by Category 2013

  % spending $ Category Spending
Accommodations 49.6% $522 million
Entertainment/Recreation 7.3% $77 million
Food & Beverage 18.2% $192 million
Ground Transportation 5.9% $62 million
Shopping 13.5% $142 million
U.S. Air Transportation 4.4% $46 million
Other 1.3% $14 million
Total 100% $1,053 million

Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce; CIC Research, Inc.; U.S. BEA; Tourism Economics


International Markets

Japan is California’s third-largest overseas market and among the most mature international markets. Japan ranks as California’s second-biggest overseas spending source market after China with 575,000 Japanese visitors spending more than $1.1 billion in the state, an average of $2,041 per trip, based on 2014 data. In 2013, Japanese visitors stayed an average of 7.3 days in California.

Japanese have considerable goodwill toward California and the places and lifestyle they see regularly depicted in popular culture. Most Japanese visitors to California are repeat travelers to the United States and are eager to learn about new ways to experience the state. The challenge for California’s tourism industry is to communicate those experiences in an exciting way that reaches the largest number of potential visitors in a media market that is one of the world’s most expensive.


Japan's economy is the third largest in the world with a Gross Domestic Product of roughly $4.8 trillion. Spurred by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic stimulus plan referred to as “Abenomics,” the Japanese economy grew steadily in 2013 and the first half of 2014. However, an increase in the consumption tax in April combined with a series of damaging typhoons in the summer caused consumer spending to slow more than forecasted. Japan’s economy fell back into a technical recession in the third quarter of 2014. With criticism rising about “Abenomics,” the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called a snap election in December to shore up public support. The strategy worked as they won in a landslide and consumer confidence rose in December for the first time in five months. The public is willing to give Abe more time to make his reforms produce results, but they remain wary. Economists continue to be cautiously optimistic and forecast the economy will grow 1 percent in 2015.

Part of the government’s strategy is to keep the Japanese yen weak to encourage exports and improve profits at major corporations. In 2014 the yen weakened 14 percent against the U.S. dollar, falling from 104 yen in January to 119 yen in December. Some forecasts call for the yen to weaken further to as low as 130 yen in 2015. While an advantage for corporations dependent on exports, the weaker yen makes travel to the United States more expensive. Although some of the higher cost can be offset by lower airline fuel surcharges, Japanese travelers to California in 2015 can be expected to be more selective and value conscious.


Nonstop Airservice into California

    Avg. Weekly Flights Avg. Weekly Seats  
Airport Airline 110 28,294 Cities Served
LAX All Nippon Airways 14 3,330 Tokyo (Narita and Haneda)
  American  7 1,729 Tokyo (Narita)
  Delta Air Lines  14 3,493 Tokoy (Narita and Haneda)
  Japan 13 3,005 Osaka, Tokyo (Narita)
  Singapore 7 2,896 Tokyo (Narita)
  United 7 1,624 Tokyo (Narita)
SAN  Japan 7 1,302 Tokyo (Narita)
SFO All Nippon Airways 7 1,773 Tokyo (Narita)
  Japan 7 1,981 Tokyo (Haneda)
  United 21 5,977 Osaka, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda)
SJC All Nippon Airways 7 1,183 Tokyo (Narita)



With more than 100 weekly direct nonstop flights from Japan to four California gateway cities, Japan enjoys massive airlift directly to California. In March 2015, Japan Airlines will revive service from Osaka/Kansai to Los Angeles after an eight-year hiatus. United already flies Osaka to San Francisco so the new flight will connect Southern California to Japan’s second-largest outbound market.

In 2014, Japan saw a remarkable increase in inbound visitors. A record-breaking 13.4 million people visited Japan last year, up 30 percent from 2013. The weaker yen, interest in Japanese food and culture, and anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics combined to fuel the dramatic growth. Increased inbound demand is putting pressure on air seat capacity and tour operators report a shortage of seats to the United States during peak travel periods. Airlines are gradually adding new routes to keep pace with demand. New service for the United States is likely to be to cities beyond California, which should free more seats on California-bound flights for Japanese visitors, rather than transiting passengers.


Trip Information and Booking Sources** (2013)

  Travel Information Air Travel Booking Methods
Travel Agencies 35.4% 39.5%
Airlines Direct 43.2% 23.0%
Tour Operators 4.0% 4.8%
Personal Computer/OTA 13.8% 15.7%
Corporate Travel Office 10.8% 18.0%
Personal Recommendation 13.1% n.a.
Travel Guide 13.9% n.a.


** multiple sources

Travel Trends

  • Continued growth in travel to locations offering magnificent scenic views or zekkei.
  • Rising popularity of once-in-a-lifetime trips and luxury travel experiences among travelers older than 50 and Japan’s small, but growing high-earning segment.
  • Increase in solitary travelers — people traveling without a companion — particularly among women older than 60 years old.
  • Renewed popularity of theme parks among young people, couples and three-generation families.
  • Continued passion for varied and rich culinary experiences, “living like a local” and healthy lifestyle activities and product.
  • Growing desire to relive youth among travelers older than 50, including taking part in outdoor activities such as surfing, biking, hiking and motorcycle riding.


Market Strategies


  • The strategy for the Japan market has been to increase travel to California by encouraging the Japanese travel trade to create new Flexible Independent Travel and group tour products that communicate an appealing, fresh image of the state and combine the familiar destinations with the lesser known ones.
  • Focus on two key target segments: Baby Boomers and repeat travelers age 50 to 70, who represent nearly 40 percent of the outbound market share; and young, first-time travelers age 20-35.
  • Travel trade education is essential for motivating tour operators to position California differently. The innovative and engaging Club California travel trade training program combined with travel trade FAM tours to new destinations for the market, travel trade shows, seminars and monthly newsletter to the travel trade are essential tactics. So far, efforts have resulted in a variety of tours featuring destinations beyond the gateways and showcasing activities geared toward the preferences of the target markets.
  • Promote new tours to consumers via the “California Smiles” tour operator co-op campaign and social media channels.
  • Proactively seek media opportunities with major travel and lifestyle publications, television, guidebooks, websites and media influencers to further promote the themes and destinations featured in the tour products. Public Relations efforts generated more than $73 million in unpaid media coverage in FY13/14.


The overall budget will double and will include new funding for building audiences on owned channels, with limited paid media activity to support traffic, acquisition and engagement.

2015/2016 Plan Highlights

Trade and PR plan highlights in the expanded budget environment will include:

  • Expanding Club California training program to Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka, in addition to Tokyo.
  • Develop large-scale, Dream Big tour operator campaign for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons promoted through tour operator brochures and websites, national newspaper call-to-action co-ops and social media.
  • Partner with key top-producing tour operators on in-depth, dedicated FAM tours for multiple employees to extend knowledge of California and build a California team within one company.
  • Partner with select media and commercial retailers to develop “California Lifestyle” clubs and special events to engage and interact with consumers around the five experience pillars and provide a platform for showcasing new, innovative tour products and generate social buzz.
  • Increase focus on high-visibility broadcast media coverage via travel and lifestyle programming and California/U.S.-themed specials.
  • Expand hosted media visits, especially for digital influencers.

Familiarity & Interest of California Areas

  Like to Visit Like to Learn More About It I'm Not Interested
San Francisco Bay Area 60% 42% 10%
Los Angeles County 56% 41% 13%
San Diego County 48% 41% 20%
Deserts 43% 39% 26%
Central Coast 41% 42% 25%
North Coast 39% 46% 24%
High Sierra 38% 50% 23%
Central Valley 34% 45% 27%
Orange County 32% 44% 31%
Gold Country 27% 47% 32%
Shasta Cascade 26% 49% 32%
Inland Empire 24% 42% 41%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012

Top 10 Motivating California Features

Hollywood 39%
San Francisco 36%
Disneyland 35%
Yosemite/Half Dome 34%
Los Angeles 34%
Universal Studios Hollywood 28%
Beverly Hills 26%
Beaches 24%
Death Valley/Deserts 20%
Napa Valley/Wineries 18%

Source: Hall & Partners, August 2012


Marjorie Dewey
Managing Director
Yuji Miyazaki
Travel Trade and Marketing Director
Takeshi Amano
Web and Technology Director
Chie Usui
Media Relations Director
Yuka Morikawa
Media Relations Specialist
Sachiyo Hara
Travel Trade Manager
Aaron Cohen
Travel Trade Specialist
Akiko Imayasu
Communications Manager
Connect WorldWide Japan Co., Ltd.
Phone: 81 3 4360 5528


Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc