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4 Key Points for Successful Inbound Measures|Why Effective Measures are Needed Now

Inbound measures" is a marketing technique targeting foreign visitors to Japan. Due to the impact of the new coronavirus, the number of domestic and foreign tourists traveling overseas between 2020 and 2022 has declined sharply.

With the relaxation of regulations starting in the latter half of 2022 and the depreciation of the yen, the number of "foreigners visiting Japan" from overseas has increased rapidly in the past few years. However, even if the number of visitors from overseas increases, long-term sales growth cannot be expected if countermeasures are inadequate.

In this article, we will explain in detail the advantages and disadvantages of inbound countermeasures and other basic knowledge.

We will also introduce what you need to know and what you should prepare now in order to effectively implement inbound countermeasures.

What are Inbound Measures? Examples and Merits/Demerits

The word "inbound" is directly translated as "inward," meaning coming in from the outside. Inbound in business mainly refers to foreign tourists visiting Japan.

Inbound measures are marketing measures to encourage foreign visitors to use Japanese services. The main purpose is to prevent opportunity loss and increase satisfaction by making it easier for foreigners unfamiliar with Japanese language and culture to use Japanese stores and services.

The objective is to expand business opportunities by providing a comfortable environment for foreign tourists and encouraging them to actively use Japanese services. Specific examples of inbound measures include the following.

Specific examples of inbound measures

  • Multilingualization of store signs and menus

  • Establishment of information centers for foreign visitors to Japan

  • Establishment of staff skilled in foreign languages

  • Multilingualization of the company's website and services

  • Experiencing Japanese culture

  • Promotion through e-commerce, etc.

Foreigners visiting Japan are not only tourists, but are also expected to visit Japan for various reasons such as business, study abroad, and migrant workers. In the future, inbound measures will be required in a broader sense, including consumer behavior in daily life.

Advantages and disadvantages of inbound countermeasures

The following are advantages of implementing appropriate measures to meet inbound demand. Of course, it should be noted that there are disadvantages as well as advantages.



  • Economic effect on Japan

  • Increased understanding and recognition of Japanese history and traditional culture

  • Revitalization of local communities

  • Expansion and acquisition of customer base

  • Creation of new jobs and services

  • Susceptible to social conditions

  • Costly

  • Causes over-dependence

  • Excessive consumption of resources

  • Increased regional disparities

  • Violation of manners and public morals due to cultural differences

The first benefit of inbound measures is the economic effect. An increase in consumer spending by foreign visitors to Japan can be expected to bring economic benefits to various industries, including the tourism industry.

Second, regional revitalization. Spreading the charms of the regions visited by foreigners through SNS and other means will lead to increased awareness of Japan's history and traditional culture. In addition, the increase in the number of tourists will create new jobs and services, and thus revitalize the region as a whole.

However, inbound measures also have disadvantages and challenges. Inbound demand is easily influenced by social conditions and is susceptible to the spread of infectious diseases, political instability, and changes in diplomatic relations.

In addition, to accommodate foreign tourists, it is necessary to develop payment methods, Wi-Fi environments, and multilingual support, all of which take time and cost.

Furthermore, the concentration of tourists in urban areas may lead to a decrease in tourists in other areas. There are also concerns about overconsumption of resources and the impact on the living environment of local residents due to bad manners.

Inbound Market Trends and Demand

In 2023, the amount of inbound spending by foreigners in Japan was 5,292.3 billion yen, a 9.9% increase over the pre-Corona year of 2019, and a record high. Let's take a closer look at the reasons why Japan has gained global attention as a travel destination and the specific countries with outbound demand.

(Reference: Japan Tourism Agency, "Survey on Consumption Trends of Foreign Visitors to Japan: Results of the National Survey for Calendar Year 2023 (Preliminary Report)")

Demand for Japan as a tourist destination

One of the reasons why Japan is attracting worldwide attention is its high attractiveness as a tourist destination; in a 2021 survey by the "World Economic Forum," Japan was ranked first overall in the "Travel and Tourism Destination Development Ranking.

Furthermore, in October 2023, the U.S. travel magazine "Condé Nast Traveler" ranked Japan as the "Most Attractive Country in the World. There are three main reasons why Japan is chosen as a travel destination

  • Convenient transportation infrastructure

  • Rich tourism resources

  • Good public safety

Considering that the market for foreign visitors to Japan will continue to recover and expand in various fields, appropriate measures must be taken with the inbound market in mind. By implementing inbound measures, you can expand your business opportunities.

Reference: Kanko Keizai Shimbun, "Tokyo Ranks First in Attractive Travel Destinations and Second in Major Cities" / World Economic Forum, "Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021: Signs of recovery in the travel and tourism industry and the need to prepare for future headwinds".

Countries and regions with inbound demand

According to the "Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)" survey in 2022, the following countries and regions are expected to have a large number of foreign visitors to Japan.

Countries and regions with inbound demand

  • South Korea

  • Singapore

  • Vietnam

  • Philippines

  • Taiwan

  • Thailand

  • China

  • United States of America

  • United Kingdom

  • Canada

  • Australia

From 2018 to 2020, visitors to Japan were mainly from South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the U.S. From 2021 to 2023, inbound visitors from Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines are also increasing.

Furthermore, outside of Asia, the number of visitors to Japan from the U.K., Canada, and Australia is also increasing, and inbound travel from a wider variety of countries will increase in the future.

Four tips for successful inbound countermeasures

The following is a detailed explanation of the points necessary for implementing inbound measures. The following are four tips for companies to properly implement inbound marketing.

  1. Clarify the target audience

  2. Conduct marketing research from the perspective of foreign visitors to Japan

  3. Thorough branding

  4. Enhance the customer experience by deepening understanding of foreign visitors to Japan

1. Clarify target demographics

To succeed in inbound marketing, it is essential to clarify the target audience. Setting too broad a target may end up not resonating with any one demographic. It is important to set a clear "persona" because a strategy that appeals to everyone often resonates with no one.

For example, which countries you want to appeal to, the age group, gender, purpose of visit, budget, etc., should be taken into consideration when narrowing down the target audience. Specific methods include advertising and information dissemination through social networking services. This allows us to reach the target audience directly.

By providing services and products tailored to the target audience, customer satisfaction will increase, and repeat customers can be expected. Furthermore, clarifying the target audience will reduce waste of budget and effort, and will also help to make effective use of limited resources.

2. Marketing Research from the Perspective of Foreign Visitors to Japan

Marketing research from the perspective of foreign visitors to Japan is important for successful inbound measures.

Foreign visitors to Japan have different needs from domestic tourists due to differences in language, culture, and lifestyle. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the values from the foreigner's point of view and grasp what they enjoy and what they are looking for.

For example, services and products that are commonplace to Japanese people may seem new and attractive to foreigners. Conversely, what is popular with Japanese people may not resonate with foreigners.

By determining what appeals to foreigners visiting Japan and building service offerings and marketing strategies tailored to their needs, you can increase satisfaction. Increased satisfaction will also lead to higher repeat business, which is the foundation for sustainable inbound measures.

3. Thorough branding

Thorough branding is also important for a successful inbound strategy. Branding means shaping the image of a company, product, or service and making it recognizable to the target audience. In inbound measures, it is essential to show that the company "welcomes people from overseas.

Specifically, multilingual support is required first. A Japanese-only website will not convey sufficient appeal to foreign visitors to Japan, so it is important to support English and other major languages. It is also effective to use SNS for visual appeal and to provide multilingual applications.

Another important factor is to enhance cashless payment systems. Since many foreign visitors to Japan are accustomed to a cashless culture, Japan needs to promote the introduction of electronic money and smartphone payments. Increasing convenience for foreign visitors to Japan will help prevent opportunity loss for stores and businesses.

4. Improving customer experience by deepening understanding of foreign visitors to Japan

Deepening understanding of foreign visitors to Japan is also a necessary element of inbound countermeasures. Insufficient understanding of foreign visitors with different cultures, values, and customs can cause problems.

Understanding the culture of other countries will help prevent cross-cultural problems and improve customer satisfaction.

Multilingual support to overcome the aforementioned language barriers and cashless payment enhancements will greatly improve the customer experience. In addition, it is also important to create a comfortable tourist environment, such as by providing free Wi-Fi. This will increase the number of convenient services for foreign visitors to Japan and differentiate your business from your competitors.

Because recent global inflation and the sharp depreciation of the yen have made it easier for people to feel that spending in Japan is undervalued, providing services that are full of hospitality will contribute to increased customer satisfaction.


What is needed for future inbound measures is not quantity but quality. It will be important to provide "irreplaceable experiences that can only be had here and now.

To this end, it is important to deepen the understanding of foreign visitors to Japan as well as the understanding of one's own products and services. If you can provide a better customer experience by properly understanding and responding to their needs, it will lead to the success of your inbound measures.

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