Report finds over one third of Japan citizens plan to ‘never travel’ again

Japan is bracing for a return of tourists from abroad, as border controls to curb the spread of coronavirus infections are gradually loosened. Video / AP

When most countries dropped border restrictions and other Covid-19-related requirements this year, it felt like everyone dusted off their passports and headed abroad, or at least started planning to.

Data backs this up, with many studies suggesting people are eager to travel more often and for longer periods of time.

However, not everyone is eager to explore the big wide, recently reopened world.

Places with the most ‘never travellers’


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According to a study by global intelligence company Morning Consult, Asia has the highest percentage of people who think they will “never travel” in the future.

Around 15 per cent of South Korean and 14 per cent of Chinese people said they would never travel again. They were closely followed by American (14 per cent) and Mexican (11 per cent) respondents.

However, none of these countries compared to Japan.


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Here, around 35 per cent of respondents said they had no interest in travelling again.

“The State of Travel & Hospitality” report, published in August, surveyed 16,000 people across 15 countries. The survey did not differentiate between domestic and international travel plans and instead asked about “any leisure travel” said Morning Consult travel and hospitality analyst Lindsey Roeschke.

Confidence amongst Japanese respondents who said they planned to travel in the next three or twelve months increased between April and July (the two times respondents were surveyed).

However, “the number of ‘never travellers’ … stayed the same in Japan,” across both surveys, Roeschke said.

Despite the increase in confidence amongst some Japanese, the country was still far behind other countries, the report stated.


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While 65 per cent of Chinese respondents and 65 per cent of South Korean respondents said they planned to travel in the next year, just 45 per cent of Japanese respondents said the same.

Japan was one of the last countries to open to international tourists in 2022. Photo / 123rf
Japan was one of the last countries to open to international tourists in 2022. Photo / 123rf

Why Japanese citizens ‘don’t want to go overseas’

Typically, outbound travel bookings dramatically increased when a country opened its borders.

But as the survey indicates, this hasn’t been the case in Japan. As one founder of a travel agency put it, residents “don’t want to go overseas”. Speaking to NBC in May, Japan Localized founder Dai Miyamoto said people currently prefer to “travel inside the country”.

In August 2022, just 386,000 Japanese people were recorded as travelling overseas. For comparison, 2.1 million travelled in August 2019.

One possible reason, according to a professor at Toyo University in Japan, is a cultural “preference for risk aversion”.


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Hideki Furuya, an expert in tourist behaviour at the university, said peer pressure was a strong force in Japan and could dissuade people from travelling if there was a high chance of catching Covid-19.

The Japanese government has never mandated masks or vaccinations but many of the public abide by these measures. Photo / File
The Japanese government has never mandated masks or vaccinations but many of the public abide by these measures. Photo / File

Another factor to consider is Japan’s pre-Covid reputation for international travel, which has remained somewhat stagnant since the mid-1990s according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

In 2017, approximately 18 million Japanese citizens travelled overseas, however, this was about the same number as in 2000.

In 2019, Japanese citizens had the lowest uptake of passports out of all G7 nations. Only 23 per cent of citizens held a passport.

Furuya said language barriers, limited consecutive holidays and work culture typically meant people preferred domestic travel over international.


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