This panel aims to question how Japanese inbound tourism actors perceive and integrate the experiences and the representations of foreign visitors and how it influence local development of the sites. Three cases will be presented and discussed, with an interdisciplinary perspective.
For a long time, Japan has been known for its unbalanced rate between inbound and outbound tourism, sending a lot of travellers abroad but welcoming few foreign tourists. However, in the current globalized context, many efforts have been made to improve this point, with official promotional campaigns and regular updates of tourism policies, and in recent years the number of foreign visitors in Japan has significantly increased (about 10 million a year now). But this recent development is not homogeneous and we need to consider its variations to understand how foreign tourists influence Japanese inbound tourism. Among others, questions like the following may be raised: how to fill the expectations of foreign tourists in order to attract them ? What are the representations carried by foreign visitors ? How to deal with the so-called 'cultural gap ? How tourism policies integrate foreign tourists experience, perceptions and representations of Japan, and consequently, how foreign tourists influence Japanese tourism sectors ? This current context provides pertinent cases to observe and study the development of inbound tourism as an interactive process between local/national actors and foreign visitors. This panel aims to question this connection, with a specific focus on the influence of foreign visitors' images of Japan and the tourism policies and initiatives, leading to the development of specific sites, promoting specific images and cultural identity. Interdisciplinary approach will be emphasized, as the three participants are coming from different but complementary fields (history, geography and cultural anthropology). Three examples will be introduced, presenting various case studies. Richi Endo, historian, will discuss about the forms of tourist experiences and images in Japanese international tourism through the example of American soldiers and their influence on tourism industry in the Japanese occupation period. Mike Perez, geographer, will talk about the processes by which Okinawan tourism was developed as an attractive destination for international tourist and as a multicultural country. Clothilde Sabre, cultural anthropologist, will compare Akihabara (Tokyo) and Hokkaido as tourist destination, in order to question the influence of media contents on tourism careers of foreign travelers in Japan.