Media Releases

Media Releases

JNTO launches new website and exciting campaign

Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney office’s official website has been given a makeover. The innovative design and improved functionality aims to enhance the end-user experience, making information on travel to Japan easier to obtain for travellers, travel agents, media and business event planners.

The site content has been expanded and rearranged, showcasing the destination’s ever-evolving offerings. Content has been separated into the inspirational ‘Experiences’ and the more functional ‘Road’ categories so users can navigate through it quickly and easily to find the information they are looking for. The new website is also fully responsive and optimised for mobile, tablet and desktop users.

New features include:

  • An interactive map showcasing model routes, ski/snowboard areas and airports
  • A user-generated images feed to promote advocacy and inspire future travel to Japan
  • A tenders page listing proposal competitions conducted by JNTO Sydney
  • Improved functionality for travel agents to add their own travel deals and agency listings. These can then be easily searched by travellers


Users can engage with JNTO Sydney on social media, including Facebook VisitJapanAU and Instagram @VisitJapanAU. JNTO Sydney’s Instagram account was launched in October 2015 and has already reached 4147 followers, while the Facebook page has hit 44245 likes. Further buzz on social media is expected surrounding the launch of The Magic Sakura campaign, a mini-game where players can plant, grow and nurture their very own virtual cherry blossom tree. One lucky player will win a holiday to Japan for two people, including two return economy class tickets on All Nippon Airways from Sydney to Haneda, six nights’ accommodation and two Japan Rail passes provided by H.I.S Australia. There are also Lonely Planet e-books on offer as spot prizes. Conditions apply – see prize page for further details.

JNTO Sydney Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi says, “We are very pleased to launch our redesigned website and an exciting campaign which offers Australians the opportunity to win an amazing trip to Japan. We hope many Australians and New Zealanders will join us on our new website and on social media to discover what Japan has to offer and plan their next trip to Japan. “

Keep an eye out for further developments, including a new e-learning program for travel agents hosted on the JNTO website.

Visit and explore the new website today!

The Magic Sakura:


The Magic Sakura

Japan welcomed over 19 million visitors in 2015

Japan’s aim of reaching 20 million visitors by 2020 was nearly achieved in 2015, with preliminary inbound visitor numbers indicating that by the end of December 2015 this number reached 19,737,400. According to statistics released by Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) this is a 47.1% increase compared to 2014 and the highest ever recorded.


JNTO estimates that a total of 376,200 Australians travelled to Japan in 2015, a 24.3% increase from 2014. The months with the highest number of Australian visitors were January and December with 48,583 and 49,400 visitors respectively.


JNTO cited a number of contributors to the growth in visitor numbers, including JNTO’s continuous promotional efforts. Other factors contributing to the increase in visitors from Australia include new airline routes (Qantas’ Brisbane to Narita route in August and ANA’s Sydney to Haneda route in December) along with the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, increasing business between the two countries.


JNTO Sydney’s Executive Director Mariko Tatsumi commented, “Australians love visiting Japan in winter, as you can see from the latest statistics. Our aim in 2016 is to encourage Australians to consider visiting at other times of year too, as Japan has so much to offer in autumn with the changing of the leaves and in summer with amazing festivals.”


The figures released by JNTO are based on arrivals of Australian passport holders and include business, leisure and stopover visitors.

JNTO celebrates Lonely Planet selection as #2 country

SYDNEY November 25, 2015 – Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office hosted an exclusive media event on Monday night at Toko Sydney with Lonely Planet, to celebrate the recent announcement that Japan is the number two country to visit in 2016.

The event included a presentation by Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Director Chris Zeiher, who explained Best in Travel and the reasons Japan was selected in the 2016 Best Countries list. He stated, “Japan is one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations right now.  It offers travellers a veritable bento box of experiences – from urban adventures in its futuristic cities, to moments of reflection and meditation in pristine wooded countryside.  Japan is a destination that can be sampled in a short break or discovered through a long stay.   Equal parts fast and slow, traditional and modern, vibrant and authentic, there’s no better time for travellers to experience the variety of Japan than in 2016.”

JNTO Sydney Executive Director Ms Mariko Tatsumi was thrilled to be celebrating this achievement. “We are really proud that the global publication Lonely Planet has selected Japan as the number 2 country to visit in 2016. We are also thankful for the ongoing support of travel agents who directly inspire Australians to travel to our country”, she said.

JNTO Sydney also announced that upcoming promotional efforts will be heavily focused on digital marketing, with plans to launch a new website early next year and a new e-learning program for travel agents. JNTO Sydney’s all-new online presence can already been seen with the launch of an Instagram account ( this month and renewal of the facebook page ( In the coming months keep an eye out for an innovative social media campaign with great prizes on offer.

One lucky attendee, Stephanie Williams, won a dinner voucher to Toko for coming 2nd closest in the guessing game. The game involved guessing the weight of the JNTO’s creative come to life – heaps to fit in.

Japan is more popular than ever, with the latest statistics released by JNTO showing visitor numbers to Japan are the highest ever on record. Preliminary figures for January to October 2015 show a 48.2% increase from the previous year with 16,316,900 foreign visitors in total (297,200 Australians, up 22.4%), already breaking last year’s records.



Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel:

Photo: Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher


Product Managers visit Kyushu, the Land of Fire

SYDNEY November 12, 2015 – Last month, eight product managers from Australia were invited on a 7-day familiarisation trip of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. The trip was fully-hosted and escorted by Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office.


The group visited Oita, Kumamoto, Kagoshima and Fukuoka prefectures in Kyushu. During their stay, they saw two active volcanoes, experienced outdoor baths, footbaths and even sand baths, visited two landscape gardens, walked across Japan’s highest pedestrian suspension bridge, climbed up the keep of ancient Kumamoto Castle and ate a meal similar to what the samurai-class royalty would have eaten.

“As Japan’s popularity as a tourist destination continues to soar, repeat travellers from Australia are looking for authentic travel experiences off-the-beaten-path. In addition to great food, hot-springs and warm Japanese hospitality, regional destinations like those found in Kyushu can certainly provide this,” said Stephanie Sng, Business Development and Marketing Manager of JNTO Sydney Office.

Fukuoka, the largest and most developed city on Kyushu is directly connected to Japan’s main island of Honshu by bullet-train. It takes just over an hour to travel by bullet-train to Fukuoka from Hiroshima, a city already well-visited by Australian travellers and the Japan Rail (JR) Pass can be used on this route. Alternatively, visitors can fly from Tokyo to Fukuoka in 1.5 hours. JNTO recommends a combination of rail, bus and rental car to get the most out of your trip to Kyushu.

Top (L-R): Angela Ferres (Insider Journeys), Alan Gibson (Trans Orbit), Haydn Thompson (Japan Package Tours); Bottom (L-R): Stephanie Sng (JNTO Sydney Office), Kate Harper (World Expeditions), Lisa Mather (Saizen Tours), Amy Rae (China Travel Service), Noriko Yoshioka (guide)

Photo courtesy of Lisa Mather

Have a taste of Japan in Sydney this weekend!

SYDNEY November 5, 2015 – The ever-popular Matsuri in Sydney is back again this year at Darling Harbour on Saturday 7th November, 11am-7pm. Due to redevelopment in the area, this year’s venue is Palm Grove, Darling Harbour.

Matsuri in Sydney is Sydney’s biggest Japanese event, held annually and featuring the very best music, dance and food from Japan. In 2014 the event attracted over 25,000 visitors, making it the biggest Matsuri in Sydney yet.

JNTO Sydney Office’s Executive Director, Mariko Tatsumi, extended a warm welcome to everyone, “Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) and a select group of Japan travel specialists will be providing free tourist information on travel to Japan at the Visit Japan/JNTO booth. Come along to say ‘konnichiwa’ and pick up maps and brochures for your next trip to Japan!”

This year other exhibitors will include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Kumamoto, Nagoya, Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan.

There will be performances on stage including taiko drums, traditional dances, karate and sumo demonstrations. Food stalls will also provide the best of Japanese festival food such as takoyaki, yakisoba and karaage. Wear a yukata (summer cotton kimono) or come dressed in cosplay. It will be a great day out for all ages!

What’s On
Japanese food stalls and beer garden

Yukata and Cosplay show

Dance: Yosakoi, soran, folk dance

Live Demos and Activities: Karate, kendo, sumo, calligraphy, origami

Music: Japanese taiko drums, choir, new talents

Plus plenty more!

Visit the official website for more details:


Japan National Tourism Organization - announces new partnership with destination marketing agency, Circul8

Best in Travel - JapanSYDNEY October 30, 2015 – The Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office has teamed up with award-winning digital agency Circul8 to revolutionise their digital marketing strategy to remind Australia that Japan is a tourism destination like no other.

Earlier this week, Japan was named #2 in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ 2016 global list. This announcement comes at the perfect time as JNTO undertakes a campaign to increase destination awareness and build on inbound visitor numbers from Australia.

“We are passionate about destination marketing, and we’re incredibly excited to work with the Japan National Tourism Organization -,” says Circul8 managing director Alana Stocks. “The recent Lonely Planet ‘Best in Travel’ announcement confirms Japa
n as one of the world’s greatest destinations. We can’t wait to get all of Australia as excited about it as we are.”

Circul8 will work with JNTO to deliver an update of the tourism organisation’s digital marketing activities in the Australian market. The partnership will include a mobile responsive website, eDMs, social media strategy, and campaign roll out.

Recognising that Australians love sharing their unforgettable experiences in Japan, Circul8’s digital strategy for JNTO will focus on interactivity and user-generated content.

Mariko Tatsumi, Executive Director of JNTO Sydney is excited at the change the partnership will bring:

“The Japan National Tourism Organization - has a goal of reaching 20 million visitors by 2020. Japan’s natural beauty, cosmopolitan cities, and exciting activities on offer don’t have to speak for themselves, because our visitors speak for them. We’re excited to partner with Circul8 to revamp our digital marketing activities in Australia.”

In the coming months, keep an eye out for an all-new online presence from Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) including innovative social media campaigns and great prizes.


Record visitor numbers to Japan as Lonely Planet awards world’s #2 country

lonely-planet's-best-in-travel-2016-refSYDNEY October 28, 2015 – Japan is more popular than ever, with the latest statistics released by Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) showing visitor numbers to Japan are at an all-time high. Preliminary figures for January to September 2015 show a 48.8% increase from the previous year with 14,487,600 foreign visitors in total (267,600 Australians), already breaking last year’s 13 million visitors record.

Japan has been attracting significant attention as a hot destination with recent accolades for the country including number one dream destination on Twitter for Australians; number one in Future Brand’s Country Brand Index 2014-2015; and number two for 2016 on the wish list of global travellers in Visa’s Global Travel Intentions Survey 2015.

The announcement by Lonely Planet that Japan is the number two country to visit in 2016 is further evidence of Japan’s popularity. This is the second time since 2011 that Japan has ranked in the Best in Travel Top 10 Countries, jumping from number ten to number two.

Japan has been selected by Lonely Planet’s panel of experts for this prestigious title at a time when the value of the yen makes Japan good value for money; accessibility continues to improve with new bullet train routes and flight paths; and Japan prepares to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

JNTO is taking this opportunity very seriously for tourism promotion in the upcoming year, and will continue the Visit Japan projects to encourage even more visitors to travel to Japan. In addition to the popular ski and cherry blossom seasons, JNTO is promoting Japan in the summer off-peak season as well as outdoor activities such as hiking and walking.

Mariko Tatsumi, JNTO Sydney Executive Director, is enthusiastic about the Lonely Planet announcement stating, “JNTO Sydney has some exciting projects coming up. We hope that Australian and New Zealand travellers can discover for themselves why Japan is THE place to visit!


Japan to feature on CH9 Getaway

SYDNEY October 8, 2015 – Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office was proud to support a recent trip to Japan by Nine Network’s Getaway.

The first of the Japan stories will air on Nine Network at 5.30pm on Saturday October 10th and Saturday November 21st. The remaining stories will air in 2016 on dates to be announced.

It was presenter Jesinta Campbell’s first trip to Japan and the country “really turned it on” for her despite some rainy days at the start of the trip. The crew visited the world heritage listed and recently restored Himeji Castle; experienced traditional Japan in Kyoto with a maiko experience and rickshaw ride; indulged in delicious cuisine including ‘fire ramen’; and got adventurous in Nara, training at a ninja village and attending a sushi making lesson. These experiences offered an enchanting adventure in Japan, a land of mixed culture where the modern harmoniously blends in with the traditional.

Getaway is Australia’s longest-running and highest-rating holiday and travel program, attracting around 750,000 viewers in Australia every week. Currently in its 24th year of production, Getaway has been on air since 1992 and has attracted consistently high ratings since day one. Detailed story information, including videos, contact numbers and website links will be posted on “Fact Sheets” on the Getaway website at

Photo: Getaway crew at Himeji castle with armed warriors

Agents indulge in luxury on golden famil to Japan

SYDNEY September 29, 2015 – From 12th – 19th September 2015, five travel agents were invited by Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office on an 8-day fully-hosted familiarisation trip, highlighting Japan as an ideal destination for the luxury travel market.

The tour visited popular areas for first-time Australian visitors to Japan on Japan’s Golden Route, including Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo. The Golden Route showcases the contrast between traditional and modern – from World Heritage-listed ancient temples of Nara and quiet bamboo forests of Kyoto to Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest broadcasting tower in the world.

Throughout the tour they were treated to exclusive cultural experiences such as an up-close-and-personal experience with a maiko (apprentice geisha), samurai lesson and tea ceremony.

“Japan is truly a land of contrasts – whether it’s exploring the ancient sites, playing dress-up in kimonos or devouring sumptuous food in high-end restaurants, there is something for everyone. 

Nara Park probably encapsulated Japan best all in one location – ANCIENT (amazing temple), NATURE (deers peacefully wandering around), and MODERN (plenty of selfie sticks on display).  However we continually saw each of these on display throughout our time in Japan.

Who would have thought my favourite meal in Japan would be Italian – a meal that still included the obligatory raw fish (in the salad), and the highest quality of ingredients (something we experienced in all our meals)”, said Tracey Williams, Travel Advisor, Bayview Travel.

The participants were especially impressed with the richly-varied Japanese cuisine they enjoyed throughout the trip. Also, the high-quality service and attention-to-detail received at the luxury accommodations they stayed at including the Palace Hotel Tokyo and Hoshino Resorts L’Hotel de Hiei made their trip a memorable one.

Jeremy Potter, Branch Manager of Phil Hoffmann Travel said:

“Having just returned from a week long luxury experience in Japan I can highly recommend this as a destination for the luxury market. The hotels and the service received at them was of a consistently high level with a special mention to the Palace Hotel Tokyo which offered a truly 5 star experience.

Nara, Tokyo and Kyoto all offer interesting and varied sightseeing and shopping but the biggest surprise was the gourmet experience we got at virtually every meal time. Japan should be on the wish list of every ‘foodie’ out there from fresh sushi at the Tokyo fish markets, 10 course French/Japanese fusion menus to local cook-your-own-food restaurants, there is something for everyone.”

Maiko experience

Photos courtesy of Tracey Williams

Top image:

(L-R): Jeremy Potter (Phil Hoffmann Travel), Kim Scoular (Scenic), Tracey Williams (Bayview Travel), Sarah Fitzgerald (Botanica World Moreies) and Liza Rarm (American Express Travel)

Agents discover the spirit of Japan on fam

SYDNEY July 28, 2015 – This July, ten travel agents from Australia were invited to experience Japan’s Golden Route, the most popular route for first-time travellers to Japan on an 8-day fully-hosted familiarisation trip to Japan hosted by Japan National Tourism Organization - (JNTO) Sydney Office.

The trip started in the Hakone region, famous as a hot springs resort one and a half hours from Tokyo, where the group were treated to a scenic cruise on a pirate ship on Lake Ashi. Mt Fuji was elusive in the wet weather, but the group’s spirit would not be dampened as they explored Hakone Shinto shrine and then checked into their traditional ryokan accommodation, soaked in an onsen (hot-spring) and enjoyed a Japanese banquet dinner wearing yukata (cotton kimono) as the locals do.

Next, the group headed down to Japan’s cultural and traditional heart, Kyoto on the shinkansen (bullet-train). Highlights in Kyoto included a cycling tour of Kyoto’s backstreets, getting dressed up in kimono (pictured), marveling at Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion) and seeing the bamboo grove of Arashiyama up close.

Their next stop was Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city and home to many family-friendly attractions like Kaiyukan Aquarium, Kuromon Ichiba Market and Osaka Castle.

Their last destination was the historically-significant city of Hiroshima, now a thriving and beautiful city of water. The group took a short ferry ride to Miyajima, home to the World Heritage Listed Itsukushima Shrine. There were plenty of photo opportunities with the wild deer that roam freely throughout the island and the agents were delighted by witnessing a traditional Japanese wedding at the shrine. Later, they returned to Hiroshima city and were very moved by a stroll through Hiroshima Peace Park and Memorial Museum. The agents later feasted on the local specialty of okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza-pancakes), extremely popular with tourists.

Their whirlwind tour of Japan ended in the buzzing capital of Tokyo, where the group first admired the traditional sights of the Imperial Palace and Asakusa before heading to the contemporary eclectic fashion hub of Takeshita Street in Harajuku and the organised chaos of Shibuya “Scramble” Crossing.

Photo: Kimono-wearing experience in Kyoto, (provided by Rebecca Kitlinska – Wendy Wu Tours)

Back row (L-R): Sheri Foreman – TravelManagers, Jennifer Jones – TravelManagers, Brigitte Borel – Insider Journeys, Jade Fan – Mandarin World Tours, Catherine Kurmelovs – Bunnik Tours, Mark Kidd – Asia Escape Holidays, Paul Wang – JTB Australia

Front row (L-R): Jenna Thompson – Insider Journeys, Rebecca Kitlinska (Wendy Wu Tours), Ronnie Albanis (Intrepid Group)


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