JTB CEO talks about business focuses in 2024, from a product strategy to new tour routes for inbound travelers

JTB CEO Eijiro Yamakita talked about the JTB’ s business focuses in 2024 and business environment surrounding the tourism industry in an event for business partners ‘JTB Group New Year Partnership Meeting 2024.’

2024 is the last year for JTB in ‘Recovery and growth phase’ under the five-years Mid-term Management Plan, and JTB will move to ’Growth and leap phase’ in 2025. Yamakita emphasized that this year is an important year for the future leap, for which JTB will set themes for the future. 

He pointed out three challenges for the tourism industry: worsening labor shortages, technology support, and sustainability initiatives. When he talked with tourism ministers in an UNWTO meeting last year, he reaffirmed JTB should address these three as common challenges throughout the world. 

“Over-tourism is one of the responsibilities for the tourism industry,” Yamakita said. “We need to strengthen actions to solve the issue.” 

代表取締役 社長執行役員の山北栄二郎氏

New tour route development to high-value products

According to JTB's 2024 travel trend forecast, the total number of Japanese travelers in 2024 will be 287.5 million, 99% of the previous year (92.2% compared to 2019), and the total travel consumption will increase by 10.1% year on year to 16.75 trillion yen (up 5.4% compared to 2019). It is also estimated that the average number of trips a person will be 2.35 a year. 

Domestic travelers is expected to decline slightly as revenge demand comes to an end, while overseas travel will recover moderately, and is not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2025 or later. . On the other hand, inbound travelers to Japan are expected to reach record highs in both the number of people and the amount spent.

Under the forecasts, Yamakita revealed JTB focuses value-added products, risk-taking purchasing and selling of dynamic package both in retail shops and on online shops as the JTB’s product strategy. 

For the inbound travel business, JTB will strengthen to deal with Chinese travelers . Yamakita said that JTB will expand the business through JTB Inbound Trip, which was launched together by trip.com in October 2023. The joint venture will provide consultation services to partners. 

In addition, JTB will focus on developing new routes around Japan for inbound tourists, including Rainbow Route connecting between Tokyo and Kansai on the Japan Sea side in conjunction with the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in March this year, Setouchi Route connecting Chugoku and Shikoku and  touring in entire Kyushu. By developing and offering new tourist routes except Tokyo or Kansai, JTB intends to spread inbound travelers to local areas. 

As high value products for inbound travelers, JTB is paying attention to gastronomy, adventure travel, sustainable travel and medical tourism. “The survey said that adventure travelers spend twice more money than normal travelers.” Yamakita said. “We are going to meet a variety of adventure travelers’ needs though diversified experiences including accommodations and foods.”

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