a person walking on a wet street
Image by Masashi Wakui from Pixabay

An interesting research poll is making the rounds regarding travel interest, or rather, a lack thereof.

A shocking number of US adults still don’t hold a passport and in any population you’ll always have people that don’t find travel to be their favorite sport. That’s fine. Putting metrics to that, data suggests in most countries 10-14% of people don’t plan to travel.

All of which makes the next metric all the more fascinating.

Despite averages of 14% not wanting to travel abroad in the United States, Korea and others, Japan is a total outlier, with 35% of the population proclaiming no interest in ever traveling abroad, or at all really!

a woman walking under a wooden arch

Japan: A Place Not Worth Leaving?

Japan is a traveler favorite, in many ways because of how unique it is. Yes, it’s incredibly beautiful from islands to mountaintops and all the cities in between, but it really isn’t much like anywhere else. Cultural norms are vastly different than those in the Western world, and even in comparison to parts of Asia.

Personally, I find it aspirational in almost every sense. The food is unique, the respect between strangers is unique — it’s wonderful. So with the gushing out of the way, it’s perhaps not too hard to explain why Japan is almost a 20% point outlier in travel.

Another outlier? Spain! In an manner opposite to Japan, Spain represents one of the most eager traveling populations of those surveyed globally. Only 4% of respondents in Spain said they had no ambition for any leisure travel at all.

Germany, Canada, UK and Italy also expressed massive leisure travel interest, with 8% or less giving travel a pass.

Unique In Every Way

According to Lindsey Roeschke of Morning Consult which conducted the surveys, there was very little ambiguity left with the Japanese audience. Plenty of people flip flopped in confidence, but the 35% of never’s remained constant. Roeschke told CNBC

Respondents were surveyed twice this year: in April and July. During that time, travel confidence increased among other Japanese respondents, including those who said they plan to travel in the next 3 months (+7 points) as well as the next 12 months (+4 points). But in both surveys, “the number of ‘never travelers’ … stayed the same in Japan,”

Morning Consult

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer here as to why. Is it a love of the unique culture which many enjoy in Japan, which wouldn’t be replicated elsewhere? Are fears of other health crises holding back interest?

One thing is for sure, Japan remains an elusive and wonderful treat. So wonderful in fact, there’s no place on earth which locals care less about ever leaving.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. It could be they don’t want to leave because they have everything they need at home in Japan.

    As someone who lived in Japan for two years I would say it is more down to xenophobia. You only have to look at the way the overwhelming majority of them that do travel undertake their trips. In package tours. With other Japanese people. Flying Japanese airlines.

    As a fluent Japanese speaker I still enjoy watching the local news and staying up with current affairs. ONLY in the last few years have Japan decided to take the out there action of allowing migrant workers visas. Japan has an ageing population and are having exactly the same problem the NHS does here in the UK – not enough nurses to tend to a growing amount of patients. So, Japan announced for the first time in recent history they would recruit nurses from Indonesia to come work in Japan. I watched a current affair show where this was debated and my jaw was on the floor. ‘Yes but what will happen, they will come then they will want to bring their families and their foods and way of life’. It was honestly like watching something from the 1950’s!

  2. Hearing unpleasant, sometimes horrific stories about service, foods, cleanliness or safety in foreign lands, traveling abroad doesn’t sound attractive anymore, at least to me. Weaker yen is additional blow.

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