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U.S./Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative

U.S./Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative

Goal: To create a formal tourism promotional exchange between the United States and Japan to foster mutual economic growth and improved cross-cultural exchange between the two countries.

Objective: To expand the travel and tourism traveler base over the next five years (through 2006) to and between the U.S. and Japan, with a goal towards recovery to the 2000 levels.

Background: Following substantial declines in travel flows between the two countries after 9/11, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) undertook efforts to establish a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to memorialize government efforts, in conjunction with private sector support. Commerce Secretary Don Evans and MLIT Minister Chikage Oogi signed the MOU in April 2002. Subsequently, government and private sector representatives from both countries have convened four working group meetings.

Structure: The MOU established two working groups, currently co-chaired on the U.S. side by Mr. Warren Ruello, Vice President of Global Initiatives, Marriott International, and Mr. John Marks, President & CEO of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. The co-chairs from the Japan side are Mr. Minoru Nakamura, President of the Japan National Tourist Organization, and Mr. Koji Shinmachi, Chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents. The Council is comprised of two working groups: a U.S. inbound/Japan outbound group (led by Mr. Marks and Mr. Shinmachi), and a Japan inbound/U.S. outbound group (led by Mr. Nakamura and Mr. Ruello). Each group has co-chairs representing each country.

The key elements of the Initiative include the following aspects:

  • The Initiative is government initiated and co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and the Minister of MLIT in Japan or their official designees.
  • The Initiative is led by industry leaders from both countries, representing a cross section of the tourism industries.
  • The Initiative addresses several of the following issues to be handled in working groups for ensuring effectiveness:
    1. Marketing and promotion;
    2. Product development;
    3. Public and media relations,
    4. Research and information;
    5. Education and training; and
    6. Safety and security.
  • Bilateral meetings are to be held twice a year, alternating between the U.S. and Japan for meeting sites. The U.S. site will alternate between Island locations and Mainland locations.