Tourism EXPO Japan 2020 was organized in Okinawa as the first big New Normal MICE in Japan toward a new tourism era

Four-days Tourism EXPO Japan 2020 (TEJ 2020) opened in Okinawa on October 29 2020 as the first big tourism event in Japan amid COVID-19. The hybrid event with virtual and real agendas was regarded as a touchstone of the future MICE co-living with COVID-19.

On the opening day, the world’s tourism leaders came up to the stage or appeared online to send their messages about tourism promotion under New Normal and building new tourism models. 

“People did not go out of home or meet each other amid COVID-19. The movement has given an enormous impact on the tourism industry and local economy,” Nobuaki Sakamaki, Chairman at Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), one of the organizers for TEJ2020, said. “We understand again that power of travel encouraging people to move is very big. We are trying to make TEJ2020 a symbolic event for tourism revitalization under New Normal.” 

Organizers on the center stage

Welcome message by Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki

World's tourism leaders shared efforts for tourism recovery

“COVID-19 has affected 121 million tourism jobs in the world, and the affected number may reach 197 million by the end of this year,”  Gloria Guevara, President and CEO at World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said. “Reopening of international travel is quite crucial. We cannot wait for development of vaccine. We have to learn about co-living with the virus and to recover travelers’ confidences. Keeping health and life, we can restart traveling.”

Gloria Guevara, President and CEO at WTTC

Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Secretary of Philippines, introduced the country’s original digital tracking system ‘Visit Program,’ which includes negative certificate of a PCR test 72 hours before arrival in Philippines, when major tourism destinations, such as Boracay, El Nido or Palawan, were opened. In addition, Philippines has developed a digital precaution management solution for hotels and restaurants to promote New Normal tourism. “We are looking for more resilient and sustainable way for the tourism industry,” she added. 

Reopening of tourism is accelerating in Japan 

Yoshiro Shimoji, Chairman at Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB), explained the tourism policy of Okinawa to focus on ‘Health Tourism’ and ‘Quality Improvement,’ setting goals of 3.7 million domestic visitors by the end of March 2021, about 40% of a year ago, and 3,000 international visitors on March 2021. 

Okinawa has developed its original tracking system ‘RICCA’ on the LINE platform to avoid spread of infections in the prefecture. Pointing out that it is important to care about residents’ lives to promote sustainable tourism, Shimoji emphasized, “Restoration of tourism in Okinawa is a model for restoration of tourism in Japan.”

Yoshiro Shimoji, Chairman at OCVB

Toward sustainable growth of tourism 

“The government’s initiative “Go To Travel Campaign’ really helps the tourism industry. The next step is restart of overseas travel,” Eijiro Yamakita, JTB President, said at International Tourism Forum. “We have a chance to reconsider tourism in preparing for the restart and need to build a new tourism ecosystem with digitalization, which is expected to improve customer journey.”

International Tourism Forum“We have two important viewpoints to reopen the inbound travel market. One is safety and security, and the other is that Japanese welcome them,” Akiko Yoshida, Executive Senior Vice President at Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), said. “To create such environments, two-way communication is essential.” 

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