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LGBT inbound and outbound Japan: A huge opportunity for travel and tourism

LGBT inbound and outbound Japan: A huge opportunity for travel and tourism

Meeting Japanese tourists anywhere on the globe, inbound travel to Japan keeps showing records as well. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced last month that the number of visitors to Japan in 2016 was 24.04 million people. This represents the largest on record since JNTO started to keep the statistics in 1964. Over the last three years, the number of visitors has grown 2.4 times. Contributing to this significant growth were international conferences and events held in Japan as well as continuous promotional activities to attract tourists.

One often overlooked for both the inbound and outbound market to Japan are LGBT travelers. Estimated to contribute to 10% of the industry, LGBT travel to Japan could be the next still hidden opportunity. To get attention for this potential part of the travel and tourism industry to Japan, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) had its

To get attention for this potential part of the travel and tourism industry to Japan, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) had its  President/CEO John Tanzella  last week in Japan, meeting with tourism leaders throughout the country and participating in seminars on the LGBT travel market. The trip began by meeting the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau and speaking at a seminar for approximately 70 local tourism professionals.

Tanzella also met with the Kyoto Convention Bureau, which included a tour of the city, Japan’s former capital. He had a formal meeting with the Mayor of Kyoto and his advisory staff. In Tokyo, he met with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), which included discussing the feasibility of a future IGLTA Annual Global Convention in Japan, and participated in an LGBT seminar for a capacity crowd of 150 tourism professionals.

“This week was hugely important for IGLTA and its members, both in Japan and outside,” said Tanzella, who was accompanied by Kyoto-based IGLTA board member Shiho Ikeuchi. “Japan, and Asia in general, are becoming more open for LGBT travelers and recognizing they have a lot to offer our community: rich history and culture, and unique cuisine, art and architecture.

Japanese outbound travelers are often considered to be “in the closet”, but the same sex wedding market alone has enormous potentials for destinations from Thailand to London to Hawaii.

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