Expect more Japanese pop culture material to come to Southeast Asia as part of the country’s effort to beat South Korea in attracting more tourists to visit. Add to that more lenient visa requirements for entering the country and a weakening yen, and there goes the boost in Japanese competitiveness towards drawing tourists from ASEAN countries.
Seoul has been beating Tokyo in luring middle-class visitors from Southeast Asian countries for the past several years, despite having mostly the same attractions being offered to tourists, such as the local cuisine, cherry blossoms, shopping malls and also ski slopes. Executive Director for Marketing and Promotion Department of JNTO Mamoru Kobori said that the influx of Korean pop songs and TV dramas to Southeast Asia is the reason for its success in luring tourists from the region. Other factors such as price competitiveness and increased low-cost flight rates can also be attributed to Seoul’s success.
Japan, on the other hand, recently launch a government-led acceleration of pop culture exports under the “Cool Japan” initiative, alongside lenient visa requirements, which the government initiated last July to citizens of ASEAN member countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. This increased the total number of visitors that arrived in the country for the past 10 months of this year to 869,000, coming from six major Southeast Asian countries, higher than the 607,000 visitors recorded from the same period last year. The Japanese government is targeting around 2 million visitors to the country by 2016.