The secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently, to discuss the country’s tourism development efforts.
The Japanese government has recently starting putting tourism it the top of its national agenda, as it prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and an expected surge in tourist arrivals. And meeting with PM Abe, Rifai said he welcomed Japan’s strategy of improving its tourism infrastructure, visa facilitation and technology.
In 2016, Japan received 24 million international tourists, an increase of 22% as compared to 2015. This is expected to jump to 40m by 2020 and 60m by 2030.
“Japan is showing a clear leadership in tourism development by placing tourism high in its socio-economic agenda. We thank Prime Minister Abe for its vision and leadership and look forward to continuing working with Japan to achieve its set target of 40 million international tourists by 2020,” Rifai said.
Abe used the occasion to reaffirm his country’s commitment to tourism development.
“Japan will continue to promote tourism and stress its great potential in people to people understanding as well as its important role in rural area development,” the PM said.
During his trip to Japan, Rifai also inaugurated the UNWTO’s new Tokyo Liaison Office, which forms part of its Regional Support Office for Asia Pacific, based in Nara.