Premise of the Survey
Domestic travel growth is now stagnant, facing both intensified competition with international travel markets and the lingering recession. Throughout Japan, tourist destinations are having difficulties in attracting visitors.
The recession and the resulting decline in consumption are not the only causes for this sluggishness. It also is due to the failure of domestic tourism to keep up with consumer demands. In contrast to the stagnant growth of domestic travel, overseas tourism marked record highs for five consecutive years to FY '96, until it leveled off in FY '97 as the yen strengthened. While at one point, it was the very strength of the yen that lured tourists on overseas shopping expeditions, the continuing rise in overseas travel in today's weak yen market shows that tourism offerings of overseas destinations are more in tune with consumer demands. We must study the charm of overseas destinations and the products they offer, to better understand the qualitative differences between overseas and domestic destinations.
Domestic destinations tend to focus on a single tourism resource, while entire cities or communities are often the sightseeing objective in overseas destinations. In Japan, most destinations have concentrated their efforts on developing a single site or facility, without considering the development of the overall community as a tourist attraction. In many cases, this resulted in friction between residents and visitors, or the appearance of hot spring resorts with stereotypical lodging facilities geared to parties. Resolution can only come from community development plans with long-term perspectives. Community development, by its nature, requires long term planning for the entire community five to ten years in the future. Short-term plans for attracting visitors in the next 1-2 years require a different perspective all together.
Mid-term, the concept of tourism itself inevitably undergoes changes. In just the past 10 years, consumer demands have changed drastically, affected by economic trends and other factors. Even greater structural changes are expected in the future. Tourism resources evaluation and development plans for tourism based communities founded solely on today's tourist needs may become ineffective in the longterm. Many tourist facilities and development projects conceived during the years of the bubble economy are now in financial difficulty due to miscalculations in medium and long-term tourist trends.
In this survey, we start with discussions of the ideal forms of future tourism. In doing so, we discuss not only consumer needs, but also the requirements for tourist destination managers.
The survey stands on the basic assumption that tourism based community development can be achieved in diverse ways. It is an attempt to examine the various possible forms of community development. We hope this guidebook will assist each community in selecting the methods that best suits its needs.