The ribbon was cut in Tokyo on Thursday to mark the opening of the Japan Association of Travel Agents’ (JATA) T-Expo.
Dignitaries from all over the world came together for the opening ceremony, including Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), David Scowsill, president & CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and Hiromi Tagawa, chairman of JATA.
Tourism ministers and leaders from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and as far Paraguay also attended the event, which was held at the Belle Salle function space at Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Tower.
After the opening ceremony, Rifai and Scowsill delivered their key note speeches and Professor Yoshiaki Hompo moderated a symposium on the future of travel. The driving thrust of Rifai’s speech was Japan’s ambitious target of recording 40 million annual visitors by the year 2020 – the original goal was 20 million but that was achieved last year and first upped to 30 million before the current target was proposed.
Ways to achieve this number including making travel more accessible for everyone, particularly the disabled – indeed, Rifai mentioned that everyone has a disability of sorts, be it poor sight or poor hearing. He stated that planning and strategy for travel for everyone should have a holistic approach and consider the entire travel experience from airport arrival to departure, not just redesigning a hotel entrance to have a ramp, for example.