Post-pandemic strategies for the Japanese tourism industry

Countries in lockdown, airline companies barely afloat. What is there for the tourism industry besides government bailouts?

Ubiquitous ads have lost their touch. Catching up with target audience insights is the key.


Taiwan is falling out with Japan in tourism and physical goods

Japan has always been Taiwan’s top tourist destination. Yet the recent virus outbreak has made the Taiwanese shy away from travelling to Japan (a drop of 37.1%), even more than from luxury product purchases (a drop of 26.8%). Interestingly enough, other than in the medical/health category, overall Japanese goods purchases have experienced a rare drop. The slight increase in Japanese medical/health products shows the trust is still there but needs to be reinforced. Furthermore, Japanese goods need to catch up with categories that are still growing, such as household goods (e.g. soap, detergents).

Perhaps Japanese tourism-related businesses can team up with other Japanese goods brands to engage with ‘Japanese travel-like’ experience needs.


Start engaging and leverage the power of opinion leaders and amplifiers for foreseeable growth

Though Mckinsey said that this turmoil might last until Q2 next year, our recent Taiwanese insight tracking shows Japanese travelling intentions will bounce back around October this year. Regardless of data source, now is a great time to plan for the year end to attract opinion leaders and amplifiers, as they are most likely to purchase once the situation is alleviated. Nevertheless, as COVID-19 is an unpredictable public health crisis, the best approach is to keep up with dynamic insights for effective business strategies.

Dear brands: Ad budget cuts call for stronger ties with your audience

What do you do when you don’t have ad budgets to spend? Focus on your brand strengths. Taiwanese tourists generally prefer DIY bookings and planning. However, they have also experienced first-hand the difficulties of cancelling/rescheduling due to this crisis. This is a great time for the tourism industry to boost its professional service and customer support and build trust – for example, by providing fast updates about related news, or introducing measures to sanitise vehicles/aircrafts.

In addition, tourism brands can team up with media or other industries to continue to release content (yes, zero-budget marketing you can try now) to engage with their audience. You could tag on trending social media content about how people are using humour to deal with at-home boredom. This can help to minimise stress and also increase attention for your brand. This is a time when brands are not fighting for share of voice, but whoever ‘gets’ their target audience wins. For example, essential oils brand EO teamed up with Lyft and gave out 200,000 hand sanitisers to bus drivers – a great way to communicate their core values, but also a top-of-mind choice.

Businesses are now experimenting with new ways to engage with their audience during the lockdown. For example, theatrical plays have been made free to watch online, gyms are now offering online training programs, and recently Chipotle hosted a Zoom group chat to let their fans virtually hang out with each other.

Look for ideas globally, not just locally

Multiple European/US hotel businesses are already talking about the possibilities for communicating socially distanced booking policies. For example, instead of full booking optimization, they can spread out and put a cap on the total number of bookings on each level. This ‘better less than none’ momentum is just one idea found from referencing what other businesses in the world are doing. Some US tourism businesses are also calling for consumers to ‘delay/reschedule but not cancel’ their current bookings, so the businesses stay afloat during this tough time. Meanwhile consultants suggest offering new products at a lower price point, rather than discounting current offerings, so that businesses can secure the profit they deserve once the economy bounces back.

Team up and get creative: New collaborations mean new opportunities

The downfall in tourism and luxury product spending shows not only fear of infection but also income loss. Despite the outcry, there are industries that are growing stronger than ever, such as online education platforms (learning generally alleviates fear of job loss) and other location-free businesses. Perhaps it’s a good idea for tourism businesses to team up with online Japanese language learning institutes – for example, ‘get the Japanese language skills you need before you travel to Tokyo at the end of the year’ bundles. It’s also worth considering how to upgrade your core strengths, such as incorporating fun factors at a depressing time like this. For example, KTV brands may work with car rental/tourism agencies to offer in-car singing tours for one or two people to visit a scenic spot.


For companies that have questions relating to coronavirus and Taiwan, feel free to contact us at

GMO Research is now starting a new project called the Engagement Lab, in conjunction with Taiwanese consultancy firm EK2B and local consumer panel IX, to form an insights and industry prediction service focusing on the travel and cosmetics industries.