Why Omotenashi is bad for tourism...

Good morning everyone,

I don't know how much longer this great weather is going to last, but we can enjoy the sunny, warm weather of fall for one more week at least. Highs this week will be in the mid 20s and skies will be mostly sunny all week. Typhoons 24 and 25 have formed in the waters south of here, but it's a bit too early so say exactly where they're headed...and they certainly won't affect the weather in Japan this weekend.

Ok, I just want to continue about omotenashi. It isn't that omotenashi is a bad thing, it's just that using it as a way to promote tourism in Japan is misguided. People don't get on planes and fly all the way to Japan because they want 'good service'. In fact, all of the things that the media continually brag about as great points in Japan-omotenashi, clean streets, safety and reliable transportation-are very trivial things. They may make a holiday go a bit more smoothly, but they are not the reason to go somewhere.

So, Japan should forget about promoting those points and focus on the things that make it worth travelling to Japan for (and there are tons of reasons to come here!).

Japan has all the ingredients that appeal to tourists-a temperate climate, a culture, a cuisine, and a history, but it needs to do more to make visitors want to come here and become interested in the country by promoting those points, not omotenashi.

I know what some people are going to say, "But tourism has increased in Japan recently!". Well, yes there are more people coming here, but they are mostly Chinese people who are just shopping and not sightseeing. They might be a temporary boon to the country's GDP, but it's not a long-term solution.

Kyoto, which smugly calls itself the 'best tourist city in the world' had 2 million foreign visitors while Paris had 15 million. That's a huge discrepancy.

Japan needs to do two things to create long-term success in the tourist industry. One, i
ts priorities should include explaining what the nation’s cultural assets stand for, installing signs in English that have been proofread by a native speaker, and producing souvenirs that match foreigners’ lifestyles. Many souvenir dishes, for example, are simply too small to be used for foreign cuisine.

Secondly, Japan also needs to start spending money on its cultural assets to make them more attractive (and keep them in good condition). The tourism sector hasn’t really done enough research into what foreign visitors are looking for. They only talk about omotenashi. The government loves to designate things and places as important cultural assets, but they don’t promote those assets in ways that appeal to foreigners. Most of the historical sightseeing spots in Japan are lacking in value-added features that would make them attractive to non-Japanese. The U.K. invests the equivalent of ¥50 billion a year in the repair and maintenance of its national treasures, and tourism accounts for 9 percent of its GDP. Japan invests ¥8.1 billion, and tourism accounts for 2 percent of GDP.

If Japan really wants to attract tourists, the tourism industry should stop focussing on boasting about their omotenashi and start thinking about the guest, which is what omotenashi is REALLY supposed to be about anyway, isn't it?

Have a great day!

PS Don't worry! That'll be my last point about omotenashi for a long, long time...ha ha!

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