A study by Edelman into public perception of preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games finds that just 16% of Japanese citizens feel confident that the country is ready to welcome more visitors.
Inbound tourism to Japan this year stands at nearly 24 million. By 2020, the country expects 40 million. Osaka is relatively positive about being able to cope with such an increase: 30% expressed confidence that they are ready for the Olympic year. The city, which has historically struggled to gain favour against Kyoto and Tokyo, is growing fast as a destination and expects 10 million visitors this year.
By contrast, just 22% in Tokyo and 20% in Kyoto said they feel confident. At the bottom of the scale is Hokkaido at 4%. In a statement, Takashi Hirono, head of public affairs at Edelman Japan, said people are concerned about the ability to look after visitors, infrastructure, and offering fulfilling entertainment and leisure facilities. He suggested that local authorities need to make their progress clear in order to encourage local residents to play their part.
Language is a particular concern. People saw multilingual signage as the top indicator of progress (36%). Other indicators were multilingual service at shops and public services, and a rise in interest in learning foreign languages, which is the main way that individuals are gearing up for 2020.
The study also found that 11% of respondents are providing, or interested in providing, accommodation such as home sharing to travellers. Japan is known to have a shortage of hotel inventory. Those confident in the progress of the areas in which they live were shown likely to be the most active in making a personal effort to welcome visitors.
The study canvassed 700 people aged 16 to 69 between 6 and 10 October.