A delegation from Japan’s National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) is seeking to raise the profile of Japan’s smaller regional airports.

“These airports have small budgets, so we want to promote them by bringing them under the JNTO umbrella,” said Yuri Nishiyama of JNTO’s global projects section while recently attending Routes Asia in Cebu. “Additionally, the Japanese government is setting a target of 40 million visitors by 2020 and 60 million by 2040. Since the capacity at the major hubs is becoming full, the only way to meet the target is to bring tourists through these smaller airports.”

Without revealing too many details, Nishiyama said Thailand is seeing a massive growth, with 1.1 million inbound visitors in 2018 and 14.7% growth year on year, followed by the Philippines with around 504,000 visitors, an 18.8% yearly increase. Traffic from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia has steady increased. JNTO has a special budget that is allocated to these six Southeast Asian markets for ‘aggressive marketing.’

Global projects section deputy manager for the JNTO, Daisuke Kobayashi said the organisation had noticed the region was seeking a need for Japan’s Hokkaido region because of the snowy climate not found anywhere else in southeast Asia. “Hokkaido was often second only to Tokyo in terms of traffic and can experience more traffic than Tokyo in certain seasons,” said Kobayashi.

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