Speaking to TTG at WTM London, Matsuyama said Japan welcomed more than 24m international arrivals in 2016 and aims to reach the 40m mark by 2020.
“Japan is now a popular holiday destination and the Japanese government is transforming its infrastructure to accommodate this. This is the first time that we have set a spending target like this.”
The JNTO will focus on growing the European market which currently represents 1.4m visitors.
Matsuyama is hopeful that Japan’s hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will help raise the nation’s profile.
“The rugby is a massive event and we hope it will help spread interest for Japan globally.”
Of the European market the UK has been performing strongly; in 2016 Japan welcomed 292,457 visitors, up from 258,488 arrivals in 2015. Matsuyama said they expected this figure to rise to more than 300,000 in 2018.
Alongside Europe, Japan is focusing on driving tourism from the US and Australian markets which add 1.2m and 500,000 arrivals respectively.
Regarding air links, Matsuyama said that the tourism organisation was in talks with airlines to encourage more services – although nothing has yet been confirmed.
A new Japan Airlines service commenced from London to Tokyo at the end of October, 2017.
“The challenge, especially when looking at Europe, is that people think Japan is too far away and too expensive. We want to let people know that Japan is easy to access and easy to enjoy. The interest in Japan is increasing and we are already seeing many couples, families and solo travellers arriving.”