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Japan hopes to attract a record 700,000 Australians to visit the country this year.

Speaking exclusively to Traveltalk, Mr Naoki Kitazawa, Executive Director of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in Sydney, said he was “very proud” that his country was one of the hottest destinations for Aussies.

“Right now, Japan is very cheap compared to Australia so it is a good opportunity for us to promote travel to Japan. The cost of living is much higher in Australia than Japan,” said Mr Kitazawa.

“Australians are very surprised when they visit Japan for the first time how affordable it is. It is also very safe, clean and there is something for everyone, including families, young people, luxury and those who want adventure.”

In 2023, some 613,000 Aussies visited Japan, which was just below pre-pandemic levels but still saw Australia ranked the seventh highest overseas market. Mr Kitazawa hopes 2024 will break the 700,000 barrier.

“That would be a great success but a lot of it depends on the number of flights between Australia and Japan,” he said.

Mr Kitazawa was attending a JNTO roadshow at the Swissotel in Sydney where 30 suppliers from across Japan had meetings with 120 travel agents and industry figures.

The suppliers came from a wide variety of attractions, hotel chains and destinations, including Tokyo Skytree, Cycling Shimanami, Central Japan Railway and Visit Ehime.

“This kind of event is very important because many buyers don’t know much about our suppliers because they are so far away,” said Mr Kitazawa, adding that travel agents remained an important part of JNTO’s focus.

“We hope this event creates better communication with our suppliers and new business links and new travel. This is very important for us.”

Commenting on his country’s many attractions, Mr Kitazawa highlighted the food, scenery and culture as the standouts along with the friendliness of the Japanese people.

“I think there are a lot of similarities between Australians and Japanese people. They are both very polite but the Japanese are a little bit shy. I like Australian people very much.”