By SUCHAT SRITAMA
THAILAND and Japan are teaming up to develop agricultural and industrial tourism to cash in on the modern traveller’s interest in such things.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) Bangkok Office on Tuesday held a seminar on industrial and agricultural tourism to strengthen cooperation between the two countries and give businesses a chance to hear one another’s success stories. It was part of a memorandum of cooperation that TAT and Jetro Bangkok signed last November.
Masayasu Hosumi, president of the Jetro Bangkok Office and the organisation’s chief representative for Asean and South Asia, said Japanese culture had been increasing in Thailand, which is home to more than 2,400 Japanese restaurants.
More shops are expected to follow as investment in the food, tourism and culture sectors is synergised.
In 2015, Japan welcomed 8.4 million international visitors. That number is expected to reach 20 million by 2020 and will be about 40 million within 10 years. Tourism spending in Japan was recorded at Bt1.1 trillion in 2015 and will increase to Bt2.5 trillion by 2020 and Bt4.7 trillion within 10 years.
Hosumi said the number of Thai tourists to Japan was around 200,000 in 2012, increasing to 800,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, Thailand received 1.38 million visitors from Japan last year, an 8.9-per-cent increase from 2014.
Hironobu Kitagawa, director-general of Jetro’s service industry promotion department, said agricultural tourism in Japan had become more popular among local and foreign travellers. He pointed out that today’s tourists wanted to experience and understand local history and a country’s unique culture.
Some of the key successes of industrial and agricultural tourism are a towel museum in Imabari, Ehime prefecture; instant noodles in Yokohama; a guitar factory in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture; local handicraft at Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture; a sake brewery; and farm tourism in many parts of the country.