Japan’s Luxury Tourism Market

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Kyoto’s Luxury Tourism Market

Key Takeaways

  • Most of Kyoto's visitors, are domestic travelers from different regions of Japan, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tourist travel through Kyoto to visit some of its numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Ginkaku-ji Temple, the Ryoan-ji Temple, the To-ji Temple, the Saiho-ji Temple, the Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple, the Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, and the Kamigamo-jinja Shrine.
  • On average, the daily expense for a single traveler to Kyoto is around ¥10,530 ($82), and the average weekly cost is ¥73,708 ($576).

Introduction

The requested information regarding the type of people visiting Kyoto, the main reasons for their visit, general expectations, how much they spend, and ways in which they plan their trip has been presented in the area below.

Kyoto Visitors

Types of People That Travel There

  • The overwhelming majority of visitors to Kyoto are domestic travelers from other regions of Japan. In the year 2018, Kyoto had a total of 52 million visitors, of which, approximately 8 million were foreign/international travelers. Prior to the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the city recorded 8 million foreign/international visitors in the year 2019, while Japanese tourists were increasingly avoiding travel to the city. Chinese civilians and Americans contribute a significant portion of foreign/international travelers to Kyoto.
  • Due to border restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, new breakout waves, etc., tourism from all traveler types to the area, and Japan in general, has plummeted significantly. Tourism has fallen by an estimated 99.2% since the pandemic, as Japan only recorded a total of 245,900 foreign visitors in the year 2021. As of today, the tourist economy in Kyoto is almost entirely fueled by domestic visitors, whose numbers fluctuate according to protocols enacted to respond to each successive wave of infections.

Reasons for Visiting

  • Tourists typically flock to Kyoto to observe its many soaring pagodas, ancient monuments, historic neighborhoods, authentic crafts, traditional Japanese culture, museums, parks, and Zen temples. In Kyoto, tourists routinely visit its 2,000 Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, along with the city's extraordinary traditional landscape and woodlands, such as the Sagano Bamboo Forest (pictured below).
  • The city is home to around 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that attract domestic and international tourists, including the Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Ginkaku-ji Temple, the Ryoan-ji Temple, the To-ji Temple, the Saiho-ji Temple, the Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple, the Shimogamo-jinja Shrine, and the Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, among others. An image of one of these popular tourist attractions, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, is presented below.
  • Additionally, international and domestic travelers go to Kyoto to enjoy the cherry blossom season in the Spring, which is usually considered to be the busiest time for the city. Luxury travelers take private tours throughout the city, including the Kyoto Early Bird Tour, the Kyoto and Nara 1 Day Trip to the Golden Pavilion and Todai-ji Temple, and Private Highlights of Kyoto Tour.
  • Kyoto has an immense volume of local visitors, many of whom are students attending one of its many universities (the city has an estimated student population of about 150,000).

General Expectations

  • Pre-pandemic general expectations for travelers to Kyoto include being prepared to endure crowds, as has some of Japan's most beautiful and prominent sightseeing spots. Since cycling is rather common in the city and it is very easy to get to destinations on foot, travelers expect to see many of its citizens traveling via walking or on bike.
  • Also, foreign/international travelers can expect to observe proper etiquette from Japanese citizens in Kyoto, which would include not speaking loudly during public transport, not consuming food and beverage on the sidewalk, and providing enough room for other travelers to pass them on narrow streets.
  • Expectations also include traveling through a relatively safe and welcoming city, as Kyoto has low crime rates, clean water, safe streets, and friendly citizens, and it is LGBTQI-friendly.
  • Popular drink items that travelers expect to order in Kyoto include traditional and popular Japanese alcohol, such as sake (e.g., the "Konki" (Golden Turtle) sake), along with craft beers, creative cocktails, Scottish whiskey, etc. Some of the most popular bars in the area include Bar Rocking Chair, Fushimi Sake Village, Sake Bar Yoramu, Calvador, and Ichi-ya.

Traveling Expenses

  • In the year 2018, domestic and foreign/international tourists spent approximately ¥1.3 trillion on sightseeing, food, lodging, and shopping in Kyoto.
  • According to Budget Your Trip, the average daily cost for a single traveler to Kyoto is around ¥10,530 ($82), while the average weekly cost is ¥73,708 ($576). Visitors can expect to spend at least ¥1,068 ($8.35) and ¥3,015 ($24) per day on local transportation and meals, respectively. In Kyoto, the average daily price for a hotel room is ¥6,313 ($49.50) for one person and ¥12,626 ($99) for two individuals.
  • Travelers seeking a more luxurious accommodation in Kyoto chose from a selection of suites in the city, ranging from $1,000 per night (the Garden Terrace Tatami Suite at The Ritz-Carlton) to $14,075 per night (the Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel).

How They Plan Their Trips

  • Visitors plan their trip through Kyoto by viewing a variety of reliable travel guides and recommendations (e.g., the top spots/destinations to visit in the city), such as the Elite Traveler. Many visitors will also hire tour guides to assist them on their travels and share local stories with them.
  • Moreover, visitors take note of the time of year and may plan their trips around certain seasons and holidays. Since Kyoto is considered to be a seasonal destination and can be extremely busy during the Spring, accommodations can be hard to obtain. Also, the New Year is one of the most popular holidays in the entire country, and several businesses, such as shops, museums, and restaurants, are closed from December 29 through January 3.

Research Strategy:

To provide the requested information, we leveraged some of the most reputable sources available in the public domain. Our research included reviewing popular traveling and tour guides/recommendations. Furthermore, we explored through sources promoting Kyoto as a travel destination, including Inside Kyoto. We also searched through news, media, and press distribution sites for reports, articles, and press releases concerning tourism in Kyoto, such as CBS News, The Guardian, and Nippon, among others.

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