This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 9/6/2018


In 2016, Japan was the fourth largest overall source of inbound travelers (and second largest overseas source) to the U.S., attracting 3.58 million visitors. The total number of Japanese outbound travelers in 2016 was 17.1 million. The U.S. continues to be one of the most popular destinations for Japanese visitors with a 21% market share in Japan. Japanese spending in the U.S. remained healthy with travel and tourism receipts totaling $16.6 billion, fourth after China, Mexico, and Canada.

There are three peak holiday periods in Japan: Golden Week, Obon, and the end of the year through the week of the New Year. Golden Week, generally a popular time to travel abroad occurs at the end of April/early May, during which the four Japanese public holidays can be extended into a five-to-nine-day vacation. The summer Obon holiday occurs around August 15. Since the longest school holiday of the year also occurs at this time, August is the peak month for all Japanese travel. Many Japanese companies and organizations close during the last week in December until just after the New Year for the year-end/New Year holiday, making it a popular time to travel abroad. All of these holidays present excellent opportunities for travel to the U.S.

With the conclusion of the Open Sky agreement between the U.S. and Japan, the number of day-time flights from Tokyo/Haneda to the U.S. has increased since 2016. In addition, All Nippon Airways (ANA) plans to utilize the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet with 520 seats on the Tokyo – Honolulu route from Spring 2019. With a lessening of the fuel surcharge and the increase in the number of flights to the U.S., the number of Japanese outbound travelers to the U.S. is expected to grow in 2018.

Unit: millions of people






Number of
Outbound Travelers





Number of
Outbound Travelers to the U.S.





Data Sources
Number of Outbound Travelers: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), JTB Corp.
Number of Outbound Travelers to the U.S.: U.S.DOC/NTTO
Leading Sub-Sectors
Senior Travel Market
Within the Japanese outbound travel market, the senior travel segment shows especially good growth potential for U.S. firms and destinations. While the overall size of the Japanese population will slowly decrease, the number of people aged 60 and over is steadily increasing.  Currently, one out of every four people in Japan is over the age of 65, which will be over 33 million people (of the total population of 127 million). The Japanese senior segment, including the 6.5 million baby boomers born between 1947 and 1949, was strongly influenced by American music, film, and TV. As a result, these seniors, especially Japanese males, have a favorable impression of American lifestyle and culture. These individuals have time, money, and energy to spend on leisure travel, and are the best match for long-haul destinations such as the United States.

Special Interest Tours (SITs)
While the majority of Japanese travelers still enjoy nature and scenery, shopping, gourmet food, history and culture, some travelers have a more specific purpose in mind such as attending sporting events or engaging in favorite activities such as hobbies. In Japan, these tours are called Special Interest Tours, or SITs. These tourists are interested in traveling with others who share the same interests and have the potential to become repeat travelers. Japanese travel companies are eager to create SITs and are actively seeking potential themes. The following are examples of themes that appeal to Japanese travelers:

  • Spectator Sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer, golf and the Olympics
  • Sports activities such as golfing, hiking, fishing, diving, skiing and marathons

  • Art and cultural tours such as visiting museums and art galleries, and going to concerts and theaters

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site tours

  • Hobby tours such as quilting, photo-taking, drawing, and dancing

Cruise Travel
The cruise travel market segment also has good growth potential for U.S. firms and destinations. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) announced that the number of Japanese cruise travelers in 2017 was 315,000, a 27% increase over the previous year and made a new record. Out of the 315,000 cruise travelers, 197,000 people traveled overseas and 119,000 people experienced domestic cruises. Currently, the most popular overseas cruise destinations for Japanese travelers are Asian countries and the Mediterranean. In 2017, more than 2,764 cruise ships stopped at ports in Japan and Japanese travelers enjoyed a portion of the cruises. These passengers have the potential to shift their interest in flying and cruise trips including the cruises from/to the U.S.

Educational Travel
In Japan, almost all public and private schools including primary, junior high, and high schools organize school trips, including international trips, for their students. According to the Japanese Ministry of Education, in the Japanese fiscal year 2015 (April 2015 to March 2016), a total of 164,929 high school students participated in overseas school organized travel with a total of 1,279 high schools. Within the 1,279 high schools, 281 schools went to the United States with more than 38,000 students. The U.S. is the number one overseas school travel destination in Japan. In fact, many high schools, specifically private high schools all over Japan organize some type of overseas educational travel including large-scale school trips, and voluntary small group trips with homestay and language training components.

Brand U.S.A Pavilion at JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2018
Tokyo Big Sight
September 20-23, 2018

Web Resources

Brand U.S.A Japan Office (Japanese only)

CS Japan Contact
Ms. Tamami Honda,
Senior Commercial Specialist

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Japan Travel and Tourism Trade Development and Promotion