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Awareness of Shikoku among non-Japanese travelers stands at 14.6%: survey

A visitor from overseas is seen on a bicycle near traditional housing on the island of Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture, one of Shikoku's four prefectures, in this file photo taken on Dec. 4, 2016. (Mainichi)

TAKAMATSU -- Awareness of Shikoku among non-Japanese who responded to a survey conducted last year by the Development Bank of Japan Inc. and the Japan Travel Bureau Foundation stood at 14.6 percent, results show.

    The survey, conducted online between June and July last year, received responses from 6,274 people between the ages of 20 and 59 living in 12 countries and regions including Asia, Europe, the United States and Australia, who had traveled overseas before. The poll found that 6.7 percent of respondents who had come to Japan had actually visited Shikoku.

    Compared with a similar survey conducted in 2016, awareness of Shikoku was up 0.9 percentage points. The proportion of those who had knowledge of Shikoku was higher than the corresponding figures for the Tohoku region (10 percent), and Hokuriku region (5 percent), but lower than the proportion of those who knew about Kyushu (29 percent) and the Kansai region (26 percent).

    Awareness of Shikoku reached 18.8 percent among respondents from Asia -- slightly higher than the figure for all respondents -- but stood at just 6.3 percent among those from Europe, the United States and Australia. Among respondents from Hong Kong, where direct flights to Takamatsu Airport in Shikoku began in July 2016, awareness of the island reached 44.7 percent.

    A total of 2,792 respondents, or 44.5 percent of the total, said they had visited Japan. Of these 187, or 6.7 percent, said they had visited Shikoku. Among those who had been to Japan, 14.7 percent of those from the United States answered that they had visited Shikoku, followed by 13.9 percent from Britain, and 9 percent from France. Visitors from Europe and the United States tend to stay in Japan longer than those from other regions.

    The survey also found that among those who had visited Shikoku, 72.2 percent had been to Japan at least twice. Restricted to visitors from other parts of Asia, 40 percent had visited Japan four times or more, indicating that people used to visiting Japan were more likely to choose Shikoku as a destination.

    When respondents who had visited Shikoku were asked what they were satisfied or dissatisfied with during their trips to Japan, 13.4 percent said they were dissatisfied with the level at which they were able to communicate with people in English, while the level of dissatisfaction regarding communication in their own language stood at 11.2 percent. These figures were lower than the corresponding ones for travelers who had visited any region of Japan -- by 5.3 and 2.8 percentage points, respectively. Dissatisfaction regarding the convenience of buses and taxis was also lower among those who had visited Shikoku than among those who had visited any part of Japan.

    When it came to traditional Japanese cuisine, the level of satisfaction stood at 27.8 percent among those who had visited Shikoku -- 11.9 percentage points lower than the overall figure. The satisfaction level for low food prices was also 3.9 points lower, at 20.3 percent.

    Similarly, which it came to cleanliness and Wi-Fi reception, the levels of dissatisfaction reached 6 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively, among those who had visited Shikoku -- higher than the overall figures.

    "With many returning visitors, awareness of Shikoku is increasing," a representative from the Shikoku branch of the Development Bank of Japan said. "In the future, we probably need tourism strategies corresponding to countries and regions, giving people from Asia, from which there are many repeat visitors, a deep experience that can only be found in Shikoku, while extending hospitality to people from Europe, the United States and Australia, who are interested in people and culture."

    (Japanese original by Kunihiko Iwasaki, Takamatsu Bureau)

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