[clari.biz.economy.world] Japan wants understanding not money from tourists

clarinews@clarinet.com (DAVID BUTTS) (02/03/90)

	TOKYO (UPI) -- Most national travel offices try to generate income
through tourism, but the Japan National Tourist Organization has set the
unusual goal of helping travelers spend less money, tourist officials
said Friday.
	The National Tourist Organization has mounted a campaign to
demonstrate to travelers Japan is not as pricey as often reported.
	On Feb. 23, the tourist office will announce the results of a
survey that shows Tokyo is less expensive for travelers than several
major cities in Europe and the United States.
	Japanese tourist officials say their sole goal now is to foster
understanding through travel not bring in dollars.
	``I don't care how much money foreign travelers spend in Japan,''
said Tsuneaki Iki, vice president of the government-funded tourist
organization. ``It is more important for us to gain understanding than
foreign currency.''
	To seek money through tourism would be unseemly at a time when
Japan is flush with foreign money gained through trade surpluses, Iki
	``When we were established in 1959 we needed foreign currency,'' he
said. ``But the picture has changed. If we seek more money now, we are
doing an injustice.''
	The tourist office has published several pamphlets on cheap travel
which direct foreign visitors to inexpensive hotels, restaurants and
	The campaign fits nicely into Japan's stated goal of reducing its
trade surplus.
	Under pressure from the United States and other countries, Japanese
leaders have pledged to cut Japan's trade surplus and travel is proving
to be an effective means of accomplishing that goal.
	In 1989, nearly 10 million Japanese traveled abroad for both
business and pleasure while only 2.8 million foreigners visited Japan.
	The result in economic terms was that Japanese travelers spent
nearly $20 billion more overseas than foreign travelers spent in Japan,
according to Finance Ministry figures released Friday.
	The travel deficit helped bring down Japan's overall trade surplus
by nearly 30 percent to $57 billion in 1989, the Finance Ministry said.
	The number of Japanese traveling overseas has nearly doubled in the
past three years.
	The number of foreigners visiting Japan is also on the rise but at
a slower rate.
	Tourism in Japan was hurt by the drop in the value of foreign
currencies against the Japanese yen which in effect doubled prices for
foreign visitors.
	Nevertheless travel to Japan increased 20 percent in 1989, with
most of the increase coming from Koreans who were recently given more
freedom to travel to Japan.
	The National Tourist Organization welcomed the increase not because
of the income the tourists generated but the understanding they
presumably gained.
	Surveys conducted by the travel office show most visitors leave
Japan with a more positive image than when they arrived.
	Japan is searching for ways to improve its image abroad which has
been sagging because of aggressive trade and business practices by
Japanese companies.