After a one-year hiatus, IAGTO announced its ninth edition of the Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC), which will take place in the Japanese prefecture of Miyazaki from 20-22 April 2021.
Roughly 10 years ago, Japan realized that the Tourism industry is one of the important drivers for the Japanese economy. The initial plan was to increase foreign visitors to 20 million in 2020, a target which was already met in 2016! So, the government revised its goal to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, which was incredibly ambitious. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made inbound tourism a keystone of Japan’s future growth, understanding that the travel and tourism sector accounts for 7 percent of Japan´s GDP.
In 2018, Japan hit a new record of 31.2 million visitors. Yet after years of dramatic growth, Japan’s tourism numbers plateaued a bit in 2019. The stagnation was almost entirely due to a decline in South Korean visitors, which stemmed from a trade war between Japan and South Korea. This year, the prolonged coronavirus travel bans have brought Japan’s tourism industry to a standstill, with a 99.9 percent fall in tourists in April!
It was just a few weeks ago when the government’s latest domestic travel boosting policy was put on hold in a debate over transparency and cost, causing a lot of tourism businesses to struggle even more. That´s why the announcement of this Golf Tourism Convention in Kyushu Pref was a strong message at the right time, signaling a light on the horizon to Japan´s stifled tourism industry.
Now, it´s up to the private and public tourism sector in Japan to get well prepared in order to leverage this convention. Having had the pleasure to work with the Japan Tourism Industry for a while, I am confident that everyone will work together – across the boundaries of prefectures – and speak with one voice internationally. In order to fully leverage the opportunity a strong message and compelling value propositions need to be defined and communicated, unique products customized to the different markets need to be developed and tools & structures need to be provided to enable the golf tour operators properly. Prequalification of tour operators attending AGTC are key to save money and time. Furthermore, a coordinated golf tourism strategy needs to be defined as the convention can´t just be a stand-alone event. The effective implemention of this strategy will not only maximize the ROI on the convention but also guarantee a lucrative and sustainable new business segment on the long run.