January 31, 2023
FITUR, the world's largest international travel expo, was held in Madrid, Spain, from January 18 to 22.
According to the official website, the number of visitors over the five-day period doubled from the previous year to 222,000, a recovery close to the level seen when the event was held in January 2020, just before the spread of the new corona infection. Business visitors numbered 136,000, with 8,500 companies and organizations from 131 countries and regions exhibiting at a total of 755 unique booths. In addition, 56,000 people registered for the digital platform for online participation, which was introduced with the new Corona disaster, an 80% increase over the previous year.
With the easing of travel restrictions around the world, the number of participants from abroad also increased significantly, and country-specific booths regained their traditional glamour. From Japan, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) set up a Japan Pavilion, and 15 companies and municipalities exhibited, including Japanese travel agencies and tour operators, as well as Nara, Wakayama, and Oita prefectures. In addition, the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau exhibited its own "TOKYO" booth. In the Japan Pavilion, the Japan Foundation presented a variety of Japanese cultural presentations, including a kimono dressing demonstration and a calligraphy performance.
JETRO held a sake seminar on the stage in the Japan Pavilion in cooperation with Pablo Aromar, president of Salvioni & Aromar (S&A), a Spanish sake importer. In the latter half of the seminar, sake tasting and Japanese food tasting were offered for participants as an introduction to sake pairing.
Opportunities to Attract Visitors from Spain and Latin America
Japanese exhibitors, although cautious, voiced a sense of response to the recovery of visitors to Japan.
Some of the comments included: "It will take time for the market environment to normalize due to the long period of travel restrictions, but demand for inbound travel to Japan is rising steadily, and we expect a recovery in the future," and "Japan has just 'opened up' and it will take some time for a full-scale recovery of inbound travelers. On the other hand, there are many people who want to enjoy Japan without regard to cost because it is their first overseas trip in a long time, and inquiries are increasing for tours with more nights than before and for tour products that tour only Japan, rather than several countries.
Fitur said that many travel agents from Central and South America, which are Spanish-speaking countries, are also participating in the event, and there are many business discussions related to attracting visitors from Central and South America.
The Spanish government estimates that more than 71.5 million tourists will visit Spain in 2022 (2.3 times the number of the previous year) and tourism revenue will be 87 billion euros (2.5 times). Both are back to nearly 90% of their 2019 levels before the new Corona disaster, and Fitur reflected this recovery in its success.