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100-Member Delegation Showcases The Golden State in California Japan Trade Mission

By Leona Reed 04/13/2023

Last month, Visit California and a powerhouse group of California travel industry CEOs joined a 100-member delegation for the California Japan Trade Mission. As Japan’s first California tourism CEO delegation of this caliber, the mission was co-led by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to the Governor, GO-Biz Director and Visit California Board Member.

Along with executives from the energy, technology and agriculture industries were 13 California tourism delegates hailing from across the state to deliver a unified California tourism front to executives at the helm of Japan’s leading travel sellers, airlines, and news hubs.

Japan Mission Delegation

The Japanese market remains crucial to California’s tourism industry. Since the 1960s, Japan has historically been one of California’s top overseas markets. More than 555,000 Japanese travelers visited California in 2019, siphoning nearly $1.4 billion into tourism businesses statewide.

Visitation and spending levels are expected to recover 57% and 62% respectively this year, but more is needed to fully reengage this market.

While in Tokyo, delegates engaged in a full slate of tourism promotion activities and attended a California Japan Climate Summit and reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

Visit California signed Memorandums of Understanding with two of Japan’s largest tourism entities to jump-start travel recovery. The first involved a commitment between Visit California and the Japan Association of Travel Agents to work together over the next two years on product development, travel agent and meeting planner education, responsible tourism promotion and more. The second pledged H.I.S. Co. Ltd. to develop tourism promotions and products to appeal to H.I.S clientele, including trainings, familiarization tours and consumer education. This partnership kicked off with a two-week takeover of the Shibuya agency and in-store promotions in the 104 Tokyo-area locations.

At a press conference with top-tier media later in the week, Visit California showcased the state’s new offerings and announced the launch of a fully localized version of the Am I Dreaming campaign for the market, supported by a new Japanese version of the consumer website with sustainability, wellness, culinary and outdoor content.

The tourism delegation met with top executives from airlines to discuss routes into California gateways before joining a Taste of California reception hosted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Wine Institute, in partnership with Visit California, featuring a Golden State-inspired menu that showcased California’s diverse destinations, products and world-class wines to nearly 250 attendees.

These business-facing initiatives were complemented by a high visibility, out-of-home campaign. The campaign ran on 12 billboards in Shibuya Scramble Square - a major transit and commerce hub where 2 million people cross daily - as well as train stations across Tokyo. The billboards displayed a Japanese localization of the Am I Dreaming campaign working in conjunction with digital and social extensions that will carry this campaign through the spring and stimulate summer travel.

Am I Dreaming Japan

California’s travel leaders displayed the relevance of the industry among the Golden State’s top business sectors while showcasing the brand to Japan’s top travel executives and consumers.

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