Japanese Rakuten Travel prepares for the return of international visitors

As Japan fully reopens its borders to international visitors from next week, travel brands are gearing up to capture the expected demand.

According Phocuswright’s Japan Travel Market Report 2021-25Japan’s travel industry was a major “growth engine” for the country’s economy before the pandemic, generating more than $108 billion in gross bookings in 2019.

When the crisis began, Japan sealed its borders and only started allowing limited foreign visitors in June this year. The broader lifting of restrictions next week is expected to boost travel to the archipelago, but Phocuswright estimates it will take until 2025 before gross bookings top the 2019 figure, to around $112 billion.

Rakuten Travel, the online travel platform launched by Japanese electronic brand Rakuten in 2001, is updating its site to provide a more user-friendly and personalized search and booking experience for travelers around the world.

The site now offers content and promotions tailored to travelers from eleven countries, including several in Asia-Pacific as well as the UK and US, with payments available in each country’s currencies. The company says it will add content and currencies from more countries soon.

“Our goal is to connect our Japanese accommodation partners to a global audience and help them meet the specific travel needs of international customers, as well as provide international customers with access to Japanese accommodation, including hotels, ryokans and vacation rental properties for a high-quality experience in Japan,” said Daisuke Nakahara, spokesperson for Rakuten Travel.

The company is also expanding its marketing in each country served by the new site, with promotional campaigns and “personalization of content to deeply engage customers in each country”.

“We expect a strong rebound and are ready to expand our marketing activities to capture demand,” says Nakahara.

According to Phocuswright, in Japan, “digital distribution will be key to a rebound in the hospitality market, and online penetration is expected to climb to 60% in 2025 from 54% in 2021. OTA will continue to account for most of hotel revenue. hotels online through 2025, and increases in gross OTA bookings will outpace those of the supplier direct online channel.”

Japan Travel Market Report 2021-2025

This report provides a comprehensive view of the Japan travel market, including detailed market size and projections to 2025, distribution trends, analysis of major travel segments, key developments and more.

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