The first day open to travel professionals is ongoing at the JATA Tourism Expo at Tokyo Big Sight and is in full swing.
Perfectly organized Japanese style, this morning was trade day. Mostly Japanese travel agents and tour operators were on the look out to speak to tourism boards from around the globe, to inbound operators, and to airlines and hotels.
Japanese companies attended in full force as well to get a piece of the pie of the potential domestic tourism market.
Printed material was available in Japanese, not much was in English. Press releases in English were not produced. Local hotels often have no English language TV programs available. There is CNN, but in Japanese.
It confirms how massive the Japanese travel and tourism market is. It confirms how a domestic travel show can bring in players from every corner of the world. Every corner includes Sudan, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Macedonia, Croatia, and even a German food stall was doing good business.
The travel show was lively, also due to the large number of students allowed to attend on Friday trade day.
When talking to exhibitors, their hope was to see more quality buyers on Friday afternoon. Most exhibitor had a full calendar of afternoon appointments set for today.
Saturday and Sunday is consumer day – and the fun to compete directly in addressing Japanese consumer travelers will begin.
In 2015, JATA for the first time made news when allowing a seminar to be conducted by IGLTA to discuss the potential to promote to LGBT travelers from Japan.
This year LGBT travel opportunities were not mentioned, not even by any of the US states showcasing at the US Pavilion organized by Brand USA.
Weddings in Hawaii did not include material for same-sex weddings.
California featured Hollywood, but no word about West Hollywood, and San Francisco did not show up. There is certainly an opportunity if conservative Japanese government officials would tolerate it, and tourism leaders like WTTC, PATA, and UNWTO would take a supportive stand.