Japan Market Profile

Though one of Visit California’s oldest markets, Japanese travelers are largely focused inward on rediscovering their own country thanks to improved tourism product and infrastructure in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Still, all of the country’s largest 25 tour operators carry significantly more influence given the language barrier, and all package and sell California.


  • Outbound travel has grown with cheaper tour package prices, eliminated fuel surcharges and a stronger yen
  • Solitary travel is a rising trend, especially among men and women over 60
  • Once-in-a-lifetime and luxury experiences are gaining popularity among travelers over 50

  • Japanese continue to seek locations offering magnificent scenic views, or zekkei
  • Healthy, wealthy elder members of the population are eager to relive their youth
  • Women in their 20s are the largest segment of female travelers, trendsetting in their choice of travel destinations and travel styles

Travel Profile

In Person Trips, 2016
$1.184 Billion
Visitor Spending, 2016

Market Conditions

GDP Annual Growth Rate

GDP annual growth rate is estimated to grow 0.5 percent in 2016. Looking forward, it is estimated that the GDP growth rate will stand at 0.30 percent in the year 2017. In the long term, the GDP annual growth rate in Japan is projected to trend around 0.5 percent through 2020.


Exchange Rate

The government favors a weaker Japanese yen to encourage exports and improve profits at major corporations. The yen is seen as a safe haven currency for traders around the world; global uncertainties caused the yen to strengthen from 121 yen to the U.S. dollar in February to the 101-yen range during the summer. The yen began weakening after the U.S. election and is trading in the 110-yen range at the end of 2016.



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Travel & Planning Methodologies


  • 102 weekly nonstop flights from six airlines to four gateway cities; San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose
  • 25,795 weekly nonstop seats
  • American Airlines began daily Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles service in February 2016


  • Planning time frame: 2-6 months
  • Booking time frame: 1-3 months
  • 30 percent book package or group tours; the remaining 70 percent arrange air/hotel via retail travel agencies, online travel agencies and directly with airlines
  • All of the largest 25 tour operators package California; strong growth in escorted group tours for seniors showcasing California’s natural beauty

Market Barriers & Risk Factors


  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Tourism Economics 
  • CIC Research, Inc.
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Cabinet Office, Japan

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