December 20, 2018
Tokyo--The Japanese tourism industry is paying strong attention to overseas visitors from sexual minorities, known as LGBT, to take advantage of their propensity to spend more than average tourists.
Tourism-related businesses all over the world are "scrambling" to attract LGBT travelers, who have "considerable purchasing and spending power," said Shintaro Koizumi, chief executive of Out Japan Co., a Tokyo-based marketing firm conducting seminars and other programs to support corporate clients seeking to learn how to handle issues involving LGBT, or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, people.
With data showing that LGBT tourists spend about twice as much as average travelers, hotels and other accommodation facilities in Japan are stepping up preparations to attract them in line with a government target of attracting 40 million tourists from abroad in 2020, up from 28.69 million in 2017, estimating total spending of 8 trillion yen during their stays, up from 4.42 trillion yen.
When tourists visit Japan from the United States for 10 days, an average travel agency arranges tours that cost them 3,500 to 4,000 dollars each, excluding airfares, according to industry officials. In contrast, trip arrangements by a travel agency specializing in LGBT tourism cost more than 7,000 dollars.
"A same-sex couple is a double-income one and has more money to spend," said Koizumi, who is gay himself.
Among their other features, LGBT tourists tend to post messages on social media and have high chances of revisiting places they like, Koizumi said.
Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, central Tokyo, is friendly to LGBT tourism under its business philosophy of serving as a "plaza visited by wide-ranging kinds of people."
In January, Keio Plaza held a seminar on LGBT tourism for 150 managerial and other workers. When a participant questioned how to respond when asked directions to the lavatory, the lecturer recommended the use of a universal restroom.
Visitors from more than 100 foreign countries account for 75 pct of guests at Keio Plaza. Noting that guests have varying senses of value and tastes, Junko Saito, deputy marketing director of the hotel, said, "We want to offer services by learning what is comfortable for each customer."
The acceptance of LGBT tourism is part of Keio Plaza's business philosophy, according to Saito.
The number of local governments and accommodation facilities friendly to LGBT tourism is expected to increase.
Japan is open to various kinds of visitors as a "wonderful base for services," Koizumi said. To maintain this base, "I hope (the Japanese tourism industry) will recognize the presence of LGBT people and constantly consider how best to serve them," he said. Jiji Press
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