New Executive Director for JNTO in Australia

Naoki Kitazawa takes over from Yoko Tanaka in the Sydney-based role

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has welcomed a new Australian-based Executive Director, Naoki Kitazawa. He replaces former Executive Director, Yoko Tanaka, as she moves to a new role as the head of JNTO’s Los Angeles office. Kitazawa joins from JNTO’s Seoul office where he headed up the team in South Korea for two years.

“I’m excited to be in Australia and I look forward to working with industry partners and progressing the alliances that have been developed over the years and continuing in Ms Tanaka’s footsteps,” Kitazawa said on his appointment.

Before her departure to Los Angeles, Tanaka commented on her time in Australia, saying: “The passion that I have seen from the Australian travel trade and the public with regard to travel to Japan has been inspiring, and I appreciate all of the support that has been shown over the years.”

Toyko Tower | Credit: Louie Martinez/Unsplash

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Kitazawa will help lead the Sydney team and continue the organisation’s dual objective of driving an increase in traveller numbers in the post-pandemic recovery of Japan’s tourism industry while continuing to shine a spotlight on regional areas of the country and upcoming events including the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.

“We know Australians love Japan and, especially for second or third-time visitors, we want to encourage visitors to dig a little deeper into Japan beyond well-known areas and explore rural and lesser-known destinations – whether it’s hiking one of the many National Parks or experiencing a traditional temple-stay.”

JNTO’s upcoming marketing programs include a series of media and trade famils and digital and social media marketing campaigns that will entice travellers to ‘Experience Japan Your Way’. JNTO most recently hosted several product managers on a trip that took in Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, highlighting the best of the ‘green’ summer season.

Nagano snow monkeys

Increasing flight frequency and capacity and the strong Australian dollar against the Japanese yen have seen Australians’ love for travel to Japan sharply bounce back to pre-pandemic norms. Recent data from JNTO showed global visitors to Japan exceeded 2 million in June for the first time in more than three years. The total number of foreign visitors rose to 2.07 million last month, clearing the 2 million mark for the first time since February 2020.

Before the pandemic, Japan was one of the fastest-growing overseas travel destinations for Australians. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures showed over 522,000 Australian residents returned from a short visit to Japan in 2019, a rise of over 13% on 2018 figures, meaning Japan was the seventh most popular international destination for Australians – the result of more than 10 years of visitor growth.

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