The Meaning of Spa Tourism for Japanese
Spas are among the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, and men and women of all ages enjoy visiting these destinations. Previous studies of spa tourism both abroad and in Japan attribute this to the relaxation possible at spas. However, this chapter hypothesizes that the word relaxation has a different meaning for Japanese tourists than tourists in other countries. For example, while people in other countries mostly visit spas for medical or health reasons, Japanese spa tourism is mostly for pleasure. This chapter therefore discusses the meaning of spa tourism for Japanese and attempts to discover the following: (1) tourists’ motivations and (2) tourists’ assumptions regarding spas and any intention to visit spas abroad. To answer the first question, this study performs a benefit segmentation analysis. As in previous studies, this chapter hypothesize that ‘relaxation’ will be an important motivation. To answer the second question, this chapter describes tourists’ images of spas both in Japan and abroad, the differences in this perception of Japanese and international spas, and barriers Japanese tourists face when visiting spas in other countries. Together, these two issues help to clarify the meaning of spa tourism and relaxation in Japan, which has important implications for the spa industry.
KeywordsJapanese spa tourists Image of spa Intention to visit spas abroad Relaxation
The author would like to thank the Japan Travel and Tourism Association and Hitotsubashi University for their financial support in conducting the survey in this chapter.
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