The vanishing Japanese tourist: Landmark Japanese tourism project announced

September 10, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – September 9, 2008 – The Alfred P. Sloan Travel & Tourism Industry Center at the University of South Carolina and the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) are launching a major research project addressing the decrease in Japanese tourism to the United States. Dr. Robert Li, a center faculty associate, will manage the project.

The study will provide insight into the reasons behind the decline of Japanese visitors to the U.S. and provide options for market recovery. The study will also focus on Japanese travel outside of Asia, such as where they’re visiting and why they’re choosing a particular destination, and how marketing to Japanese travelers can be improved.

OTTI statistics reveal that 3.7 million Japanese tourists visited the U.S. in 2006. They represent the the fourth-largest tourism market for the U.S. behind Canada, Mexico and the U.K. In 2006, Japan’s visitors spent approximately $16.03 billion in the U.S. But, in 2006 the U.S. experienced a 5-percent decline in the Japanese market following years of impressive growth.

“In some respects, this project may be more important economically than the Chinese outbound project conducted last year by OTTI and Sloan, because it represents a major market that seems to be vanishing,” said Dr. Rich Harrill, director of the Sloan Travel & Tourism Center. “This research is important to the United States’ competitiveness in the travel-and-tourism industry because it will help businesses and tourism destinations retain this economically significant market.” Results of the study should be available in the spring of 2009.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center is a comprehensive and inclusive center of research and outreach and is a joint effort of the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management and the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. It is funded in part through a grant from the New York-based Sloan Foundation.