JNTO wants to make Japan the ultimate destination for UAE tourists

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Updated 13 January 2020

JNTO wants to make Japan the ultimate destination for UAE tourists

  • Tourism body JINTO has identified the Middle East as an important emerging market for travelers seeking unique luxury experiences
  • The number of international visitors to Japan reached 10.3 million in 2013 and tripled within five years

RIYADH: As a travel destination, Japan is diverse and world-class, with 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich, modern pop culture.

The archipelago is more than 3,000 km long, with each prefecture and region home to its own unique offerings, including local culinary delicacies, crafts and festivals, to name a few.

In 2013, the number of international visitors to Japan reached 10.3 million. In five years, this number tripled, meaning that in 2018 Japan welcomed over 31 million international visitors, translating to an 8.7 percent increase year-on-year.

Last year, Japan was ranked fourth in the world by the World Economic Forum for its travel and tourism competitiveness.

Japanese cuisine, shopping, hot springs and theme parks are among the principal attractions for leisure visitors.

Accommodation options across the country’s eight regions and 47 prefectures are broad, ranging from major five-star brands to ryokans (traditional Japanese-style inns).

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is involved in a wide range of activities, both domestic and international, which encourage tourists from all over the world to visit the country.

Last year, the JNTO identified the Middle East as an important emerging market for travelers seeking unique luxury experiences.

From the Middle East, the JNTO’s focus will be reaching out to and encouraging leisure travelers — including families, young adults, and those seeking wellness, luxury and authentic cultural experiences such as gourmet dining — to visit Japan.

The JNTO participated in Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market in April 2019, conducting numerous tourism seminars for the region’s travel trade professionals

Connectivity between the UAE and Japan is excellent, with Emirates Airlines flying direct daily to Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports and Osaka’s Kansai airport, and Etihad Airways offering daily direct flights to Narita Airport.

The JNTO further strengthened its presence in the region by appointing marketing and PR agency AVIAREPS as a representative to regularly collaborate with regional airline partners in conducting joint consumer promotions, advertising campaigns and ongoing marketing activities that serve to generate greater awareness of Japan’s attractions.

The JNTO encourages visitors from the Middle East seeking an authentic experience to not simply limit their visits to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but also to use the opportunity to venture out to places such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.

The JNTO is planning to renew and expand its official Arabic-language website this year to ensure that relevant, up-to-date information is made available to all.

The organization is committed to furthering its activities in the Middle East so that an increasing number of travelers can easily learn more about the touristic treasures Japan has to offer.

Daisuke Kobayashi is a senior official of the Japan National Tourism Organization in the Middle East.
 


Crisis-hit Moroccans join ‘informal economy’ as job market shrinks

Updated 14 July 2020

Crisis-hit Moroccans join ‘informal economy’ as job market shrinks

  • More than a third of Moroccan workers are already in the informal economy
  • However, the crisis is expected to expand this informal economy as people lose their jobs

RABAT: The coronavirus crisis is expected to expand Morocco’s informal economy of people who work for cash, reducing tax revenue and leaving many without social protection, the head of the state planning agency and economists said.
More than a third of Moroccan workers are already in the informal economy, doing manual or domestic labor, driving taxis or selling in the streets, accounting for 14% of gross domestic product, according to the agency.
However, the crisis is expected to expand this informal economy as people lose their jobs in companies and consumers seek the cheaper goods and services provided by workers who are not registered with the state’s pension fund.
Morocco, with 16,047 coronavirus cases, last month allowed cafes, restaurants and other services to resume activity at half capacity except in provinces where infections remain high. Last week, it extended an emergency decree giving local authorities leeway in taking restrictive measures until Aug. 10.
Unemployment is expected to surge to a rate of 14.8% in 2020 from about 9.2% before the pandemic, the agency said.
Fatima Hamdane, 53, who lost her job as a worker at a car parts manufacturing plant in Casablanca, said she would work as a cleaner even if her employer did not pay social security duties. She has diabetes and has already skipped medical checks because of her hard financial situation.
“I knocked on many doors, but couldn’t find a job,” she said. “Most have rejected me because of my age.”
Ahmed Lahlimi, the planning agency chief, told Reuters that while the number of people moving into the informal economy was expected to grow, the agency did not have any updated figures estimating the extent of the problem.
The informal economy already costs the state 34 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) in annual tax losses, Finance Minister Mohamed Benchaaboun said.
Morocco’s fiscal deficit stood at $2.3 billion at the end of May with revenue down and spending up because of the crisis. It is expected to widen to 7.5% of gross domestic product in 2020 from 4.1% last year while the economy is expected to shrink by 5%, according to the government’s reviewed budget.
The Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, a business group, says the informal economy puts 2.9 million jobs at risk in formal companies by undercutting their costs. In May, it recommended offering tax incentives to make more companies register officially.
“In the past, the state has tolerated the informal economy in times of social tensions such as during the 2011 pro-democracy protests,” said Rachid Awraz, of the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis.
But, in the long run, it leaves workers without social protection and prey to poverty in addition to its low added value for the economy, he said.
Labour Minister Mohamed Amekraz did not answer Reuters requests for comment.