Covid-19 as a Transformative Power in the Inbound Tourism of Japan

Multiple Case Studies of Foreign Tourism Professionals in Kyoto


  • Renata Andrea Szabo Ritsumeikan University



tourism, Japan, bridging social capital, covid


Purpose: This study seeks to explore the transformative power of covid-19 in the tourism sector of Japan, with attention to the unprecedented changes, growing activities and interconnectedness caused by covid-19 crisis through multiple case studies conducted among foreign tourism professionals in Kyoto.

Design/methodology/approach: This study applies participant observation, in-depth interviews and narrative analysis.

Findings: Tourism shifted to offer experiences in a digital way and new forms of digital travelling became popular like travel live streaming, virtual tours, virtual experiences. Not just previous travelers, but people who don't have the chance to travel became digital tourists and frequent interactions happen between tourists and guides, forming new communities in virtual space. The role of tour guides in digital context became more important as their interpretation reach a wider audience and shape the image of Japan. The data also shows that live streams increase the willingness to visit the destination and create connections among digital tourists as well.

Originality/value: Shifting away from the negative impacts of covid-19 in tourism, this study shows the growth and industry shaping transformations in the tourism sector during the pandemic era, and presents forward-looking solutions through increased interconnectedness in virtual space.