Visitor characteristics

  • Most visitors from Japan are aged 25-54 years old (72% of all visits from Japan in 2017)
  • The Japanese are less likely than average to be making a repeat trip to Britain: 49% of all holiday visitors from Japan (excluding British expats) are making a repeat visit to Britain (within 10 years), compared to 63% across all markets
  • 68% of departing Japanese staying holidaymakers (excluding British expats) are 'extremely likely' to recommend Britain

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Visited a Museum or Art Gallery

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)18.2
Global rank for international tourism expenditure18
Number of outbound visits (m)23.0
Most visited destinationUSA
Most visited destination in Western EuropeGermany

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)127.1
GDP per capita PPP (US$)38,494
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)0.7
Annual average GDP growth in the past year (%)1.0

Inbound visits to Britain

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Seasonality (Share of visits)

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Regional spread (Share of visits)

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Journey purpose (Share of visits)

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What Japanese think about Britain

  • The Japanese have a good overall opinion about Britain; their perceptions of both tourism in Britain and the British culture have improved by one place each in the the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, compared to 2016, ranking 5th and 4th respectively among 50 nations
  • Areas where Britain has room to improve include perceptions of ‘welcome’ and for being ‘rich in natural beauty’
  • The Japanese strongly associate Britain with 'museums' and 'music' but are much less likely than others to associate Britain with 'sports' or 'films' for example
  • Only 10% think a trip to Britain would be ‘exciting’ but 30% think it would be ‘fascinating
  • ‘Having fun and laughter’, ‘enjoying the beauty of the landscape' and 'chilling/slowing down to a different pace of life' are key holiday ‘wants’ for Japanese travellers
  • The USA are seen as the best place to get the first of those holiday attributes by the Japanese while Australia is seen as the best holiday destination for the latter two
  • Britain is seen by the Japanese travellers as the best destination for 'revisiting places of nostalgic importance', 'getting around easily by public transport', and 'doing what they want when they want spontaneously'
  • 38% would like to go on a tour of Buckingham Palace

Caring for visitors

  • Word of mouth factors very highly in the consumer decision-making process
  • Leisure travellers generally prefer to stay in 3-star or even higher categories of hotels, with Japanese women (in the 20s and 30s) prefer to stay in greater luxury - 4 or 5 star hotels and students preferring budget accommodation
  • A direct 'no’ is likely to be avoided in formal situations with Japanese looking to use alternatives
  • There is a preference for quick service, breakfast buffets, set-meal lunches and express check-in for groups
  • Small touches will be noticed and appreciated
  • The majority of Japanese visitors use a credit card while in Britain

The leisure & travel trade

  • The Japanese travel industry is specialised and is a customer-focused sector
  • Many travel agencies have increased their online presence as travel booking via the internet has become more common – however, 85% of all long haul travel is still booked through a traditional ‘high street agent’
  • Travel products are geared towards the 65+ age group who have both the money and time to travel abroad

Access to Britain from Japan

Weekly aircraft departures29
Weekly seat capacity6,910
Airports with direct routes in Japan2
Airports with direct routes in Britain1
  • Japanese visitors do not require a visa to visit Britain, nor do they for anywhere else in Western Europe
  • British Airways will serve a new Osaka-London Heathrow route in 2019
  • Despite some increase in the last few years, airline seat capacity from Japan to Britain has fallen by over 44% in the last ten years
  • Only London Heathrow receives direct flights from Tokyo Narita and Tokyo Haneda*
  • Those departing Britain by air destined for Japan pay £78 in Air Passenger Duty if travelling in economy class

*2017 data