Japan promotes universal tourism, meeting various dietary needs – Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

TOKYO – (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of foreign visitors to Japan set a new annual record of 31.9 million in 2019, the eighth consecutive year of growth.

To help reignite this positive trend as global travel picks up, JNTO promotes the concept of ‘universal tourism’, which is part of a policy encouraging all tourists – regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, religion. , gender, age or disability – to visit Japan and enjoy a safe and comfortable stay.

We therefore wish to highlight how the Japanese hotel industry plans to welcome overseas visitors with diverse dietary needs, including vegetarians and vegans, and those with food allergies.

A 2019 survey by the Japan Tourism Agency found that eating Japanese food was the activity most foreign visitors looked forward to when they first visited the country, with nearly 70% d ‘between them choosing it (with several answers allowed). The latest Michelin Guide shows that Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in the world – a true culinary paradise.

To help tourists enjoy safe and enjoyable dining experiences, JNTO provides information on this subject to international visitors and tour operators, including restaurant finding facilities. This includes A vegetarian and vegan guide to Japan, as good as brochures featuring local vegetarian restaurants. Websites specializing in vegetarians such as Happy cow and Vegewel introduce local restaurants; other sites such as Google Maps and TripAdvisor as well as Facebook groups provide helpful advice for those doing pre-trip research.

The concept of universal tourism also includes taking into account people with food allergies. A growing number of hotels, restaurants and airlines are offering special menus, and local tourism boards and associations are organizing seminars for the hospitality and tourism sectors to encourage them to improve service levels for customers with diverse dietary needs. These initiatives are also encouraged by the government.

The demand for vegetarian and vegan food in Japan has increased in recent years, along with the increase in the number and diversity of foreign visitors and the emerging trend towards more health-conscious lifestyles. Soy-based meat substitutes, non-dairy dairy products, and gluten-free foods are increasingly available in mainstream stores across Japan. Third-party certified products are now available, helping people with food allergies or sensitivities to make their choice.

However, there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan philosophies, as well as ambiguities in the definition of certain food allergies, and therefore it is necessary for overseas visitors to clearly communicate to service providers what they can and cannot eat. . For example, soybeans, fish, and shellfish are common Japanese seasonings and are often not seen in dishes presented or included in menu descriptions. Visitors are therefore recommended to consult restaurants or meal providers beforehand.

With Japan welcoming an increasing number of foreign visitors in recent years, it is not only grocery stores in big cities that are adapting to more diverse dietary requirements; those in local regions are responding as well, with more and more information being provided online. The government and the hospitality industry are working together to ensure that all tourists can enjoy their time in Japan and experience the tangible and intangible cultural assets of each region. Many other restaurants now offer menus in English, and advanced translation tools help visitors communicate more easily with locals.

Anticipating an upturn in the number of foreign visitors to the country during the post-pandemic period, Japan is moving quickly to welcome diversity and inclusion in its tourism sector.

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