'Big data' to help tourism

 'Big data' to help tourism

The Japan Tourism Agency is keen to fulfil its mission of making Japan a popular destination by using so-called big data, the collection of massive amounts of digital data.

To help develop new tourism spots and routes, the agency plans to collect big data from travelers via the Global Positioning System and their mobile phones or other devices.

A working group of experts, soon to be formed, is expected to establish a method by the end of March to analyse the data. The agency plans to collect big data-various information such as messages posted on social media sites-from about 700,000 tourists in eight areas across the nation.

Aiming to make Japan more attractive to foreign tourists, the government has set a goal of boosting the number of overseas visitors to 30 million by 2030.

The agency intends to expand the areas for its big data survey in the near future.

The areas currently subject to the survey include Mt. Fuji and its environs; Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture; Furano, Hokkaido; and all of Fukushima Prefecture. They are viewed as areas that could attract more tourists if multiple municipalities were to work together. The agency plans to analyse tourist data-collected this year at Mt. Fuji and in Fukushima Prefecture and taken last year in other six areas. The data will be provided by mobile phone companies.

After obtaining consent from their customers, the mobile phone companies send data on the customers' action history every five minutes to servers. 

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