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The United States and Japan Launch "U.S.-Japan Tourism Year"
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November 29, 2023

TOKYO, Japan – On November 29, 2023, the United States and Japan officially launched the “U.S.-Japan Tourism Year” with a signing ceremony at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel. Ambassador Emanuel and Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Tetsuo Saito signed a Memorandum of Cooperation officially declaring 2024 as the Tourism Year between the two countries. This is the first time the two nations have celebrated a Tourism Year, which seeks to promote greater travel, business, and tourism in both directions.

“The U.S.-Japan Tourism Year is a game-changer, opening new avenues for economic growth and deepening our bonds,” said Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. “This initiative isn’t just about travel; it’s about strengthening ties, boosting economies, and exchanging culture. As we rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, together, we will set the stage for increased growth of Japanese travelers to the United States, and American travelers to Japan, in 2024 and beyond.”

“The U.S.-Japan Tourism Year aims to restore and expand exchange between the U.S. and Japan in both directions. We hope the Tourism Year will provide an opportunity for all of us to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances with whom we have fallen out of touch due to the pandemic,” said Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Tetsuo Saito. “The U.S. and Japan share 464 sister-city relationships, and we hope our two countries will take advantage of the Tourism Year to resume and further promote exchange at the local level. The people of our two countries also share a passion for baseball. The year 2024 happens to be the 90th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s visit to Japan with the American All-Star Team to play against local teams, and we look forward to deepening tourism exchange through baseball and other sports.”

The ceremony also featured a video message from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who highlighted the opportunity to work together with the public and private sectors to promote travel, tourism, and cultural exchanges between the United States and Japan throughout the Tourism Year.

The Tourism Year will be implemented on the U.S. side by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office and U.S. Commercial Service, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and Brand USA, and on the Japanese side by the Japan Tourism Agency, the Japan National Tourism Organization, and the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

For the United States, the Tourism Year is an important initiative under the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which aims to welcome 90 million international visitors, who are estimated to spend $279 billion, to the United States annually by 2027. Additionally, the Tourism Year leverages the announcement that the United States and Japan have recently signed the foundational documents to facilitate the establishment of a full Global Entry program for Japanese citizens, affording those travelers who join the program expedited entry to the United States.

The signing event was supported by Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States and key private sector partner for U.S. efforts during the Tourism Year.

“The National Travel and Tourism Office looks forward to collaborating with the Japan Tourism Agency and our private sector partners through the Tourism Year to grow travel and tourism between our countries,” said Brian Beall, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “This is critical to achieving the goals of the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Strategy, as it will help ensure travel and tourism comes back stronger than ever by creating jobs and fostering growth in communities across both of our countries for years to come.”

“We are pleased to support the U.S.-Japan Tourism Year and to restate Brand USA’s commitment to this crucial market, which has contributed greatly to the U.S. travel industry for so many years,” said Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, Brand USA’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. “We look forward to rolling out high-impact Japan marketing programs in 2024, including a week-long sales mission and a new consumer campaign. The Tourism Year will further enhance the Japanese traveler’s decision to visit the United States to experience our vibrant cities, scenic public lands, and diverse communities.”

Prior to COVID-19, Japan was the second-largest overseas source of travelers for the United States, annually sending 3.8 million visitors and contributing $13 billion in spending for the U.S. economy. As of October 2023, Japanese visitation has rebounded to 46 percent of visitation in October 2019. Through the Tourism Year, the United States and Japan aim to continue to regrow travel and tourism flows, enhancing social and economic cooperation and mutual understanding between both countries.