JONES Thomas E.
   Department     College of Asia Pacific Studies
   Position   Professor
Language English
Publication Date 2011/08
Type Research paper (Academic/Professional Journal)
Peer Review Peer reviewed
Title Changing Demographics in Japan’s National Parks; Towards a Targeted Marketing Strategy for Nature-Based Tourists.
Contribution Type Single Work
Journal Tourism & Hospitality Management
Volume, Issue, Page 18(1),pp.95-109
Details Trends from Japan and other post-industrial countries suggest visitor demand for nature-based tourism (NBT) destinations such as national parks has peaked and is in decline. One counter strategy is targeted marketing but this relies on accurate knowledge of the market to maintain current segments and attract new ones. This paper employs a ‘market leader’ case study approach to investigate visitors to Kamikochi, a gateway to the North Japan Alps whose long conservation pedigree, and proximity to urban areas, ensures it can fulfil both ‘protection’ and ‘promotion’ criteria. The focus was on the Day Hiker (Dh) segment, deemed desirable from a managerial perspective, because they stay longer, visit more frequently and have a greater interaction with nature. The aims were to identify the composition of Kamikochi’s Dh visitor segment, and cross analyse the results. Following on from a 2007 survey, 391 usable semi-structured questionnaires were collected between July 10th and September 10th 2009, from participants in guided tours at Kamikochi, a response rate of 31%. Results show the ‘market leader’ segment consisted of pairs or small groups of well-educated, wealthy ‘baby-boomers’ from Kanto; 55% were aged 50 or over, and 59% came from the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. These Kanto Dhs tended to be repeat visitors (66%) who stayed for 2 nights or more (55%). The results provided a snapshot of visitor demand unbalanced not only by urban area, but also gender, age and income; hence further research is needed to explain the dominance of female, elderly and wealthy visitors. Transparent goals, combined with ongoing visitor segment monitoring, are two steps towards a targeted NBT marketing strategy.