As average daily spending by Japanese tourists continues to fall, one travel agency said that local tourism businesses should focus on offering more immersion-type experiences to entice them to spend more.
Tourism Bureau statistics show the average amount that Japanese spend per day has been steadily dropping year after year, with the exception of 2016.
While Japanese are willing to spend money on experiences, such as lighting sky lanterns in New Taipei City’s Pingsi District (平溪) or getting a massage in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, the options are limited, said a travel agency employee with more than 40 years of experience who declined to be named.
Photo courtesy of the New Taipei City Tourism and Travel Department
There is little left for tourists visiting Taipei to do except visit the National Palace Museum or tour the city on a double-decker bus, the source said.
Japanese typically do not engage in irrational or impulsive spending behavior, and they value quality over price when it comes to dining, accommodations and souvenirs, the source said.
Many like to buy pineapple cakes from Taipei Leechi and SunnyHills, and nougat from the Okura Prestige Taipei, they said.
As for hotels, Japanese tourists seem to prefer to stay at ones in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山), such as the Okura Prestige Taipei, the Regent Taipei, the Ambassador Hotel Taipei or the Grand Hotel Taipei, they added.
Compared with souvenirs sold in Japan, which typically come with delicate packaging, products sold near major tourist attractions in Taiwan lack the same appeal and need to be significantly improved to attract Japanese buyers.
Japanese identify strongly with quality and brands, and are relatively conservative when it comes to making travel decisions, Okura Prestige Taipei vice president of marketing and public relations Chen Ying-shan (陳盈珊) said.
The Okura Prestige Taipei is a Japanese hotel brand and the Hotel Okura Tokyo enjoys a reputation as the preferred venue for visiting foreign leaders, so being able to stay at the Taipei branch makes the hotel popular with Japanese, Chen added.
Japanese travelers like to stay at high-end hotels, and compared with other international guests, they tend to wake up early to enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, Regent Taipei director of marketing and communications Beth Tsai (蔡惠茹) said.
They also like to purchase souvenirs with a commemorative meaning or printed with the hotel’s logo, she said, adding that the pineapple cakes, chocolates and beef noodle soup gift packages sold at the hotel are popular items.
To accommodate travelers during Japan’s extended Golden Week holiday, the hotel’s gift shop is to open early to attract guests after they have had breakfast, she added.
Golden Week was extended to 10 days this year to mark the abdication of Japanese emperor Akihito yesterday and the ascension to the throne of his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, today.
The majority of Japanese had opted for long-distance trips to Europe or North America due to the length of the holiday, Taiwan Tourism Development Association vice chairman Ko Mu-chou (柯牧洲) said.
However, with its tourism- friendly atmosphere, Taiwan has always been one of the top tourist destinations among Japanese, he said.
Due to the long Golden Week holiday, the bureau’s overseas offices began advertising travel itineraries much earlier than usual, including partnering with travel agencies to attract tour groups, bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said on Sunday.
It has also created itineraries centering on restaurants named in the 2019 Michelin Guide Taipei released last month, he said.
In related news, the government is hoping to attract more Muslim tourists from the Middle East after the bureau forged a strategic partnership with Emirates Airlines to promote Taiwan as a major tourist destination.
The bureau’s Singapore office, which also handles promotions in the Middle East, on Sunday clinched the partnership at the four-day Arabian Travel Market fair that opened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The airline is to make Taiwan its “focused tourist destination” through a series of promotional activities, Singapore office Director Trust Lin (林信任), told the Central News Agency on Monday.
Additional reporting by CNA
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