Behind the scene player in the Japan’s booming tourism

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The number of inbound travellers to Japan as of 2017 reached a maximum level of 28,969,000 people, the first time since the records began.
Frequent natural disasters in the first half of this year slowed down the increase of visitors, however, the number once again gains the comeback and may possibly renew the record.

The year 2018 definitely becomes the major turning point for the tourism in Japan.
The Guide-Interpreter Business Law was revised for the first time in about 70 years in the last January, allowing even non-licenced individuals to provide international visitors with travel guide services using foreign languages, although such services were only permitted to the Government-Licensed “Tour-Guide Interpreters”.

The new law amendment is presumably intended to make up for the shortage of the “Tour-guide Interpreters”, however, this revision enables non-Japanese individuals get paid for their guide services using foreign languages, and made a great impact on the active qualified guides.

Major tourism-oriented countries such as Spain and Italy have intensified efforts to crackdown on non-licensed guides, on the other hand, Japan runs completely counter to them.

Non-licensed guides are not the only rivals for the qualified guides. Most of the tourists have smartphones and they are easily accessible to the internet to get whatever information they want and the GPS takes them to the destination. One of my guests asked me to speak to her smartphone in my previous tour. I was surprised that the translation apps started speaking in Italian.

On the other hand, Information Technology has brought us a dramatic change in the inbound tourism in Japan. The most booming is the on-line tour marketplace. That is the Customer-to-Customer (C2C) markets providing an innovative ways to allow customers to interact with tour guides. The guides conventionally get work from travel agencies but new methods expand opportunities for guides. But things are no that easy. It is common that communications end up in “information purpose only” and the “customer” becomes disconnected all of sudden.

Recently, more and more foreign tourists are interested in spending a special time instead of doing the general sightseeing. I am delighted to take such guests to the Japanese cultural experience programs.

Intended meanings in carefully choreographed gestures
seasonal designs arranged in the kimono
Aesthetic found in the details

Subjects of interest vary person to person. I am more than happy to help my guests better understand Japan and I am flattered and honored when they enjoy and appreciate the time spent in the cultural experience programs.

We hosted the cultural program of “The Classical Japanese Dance” in Ginza, Tokyo recently.
The guest were fascinated by the excellent performing artists in the lessons. It was such a luxurious experience indeed.

The role of the Tour-Guide Interpreters will be changing as the time goes by. I’d like to commit myself to promoting cultural activities in the many years to come.

Kazuyo Hachiya
Tour-Guide Interpreter