Project CAITO team present the “Handbook for Providing Rural Tourism Services to Japanese Tourists”. This handbook aims to increase the capability of rural tourism companies to enter the Japanese tourism market and includes knowledge gathered from surveys of Japanese visitors, tourism agencies and travel intermediaries and analysis of Japanese tourists’ expectations and interests compared with the products and services offered by rural tourism enterprises. Following customer journey decision-makers’ interviews and forums, transport gaps were identified and potential solutions proposed. There is also the possibility to replace sectorial thinking with holistic or system thinking and actions, which could be seen as the basis for innovations. 

Videos from project conference “JAPAN – THE GATE TO ASIAN TOURISM MARKET

Project conference was held in Tallinn on 26.-27.11.2019.

You can find the videos from conference and interviews with project representatives here:

Rural Tourism Press Trip Feedback

11 participants from different media and press visited project countries in Midsummer time (18-24.06.2019). They were asked to give the feedback in order to adapt the rural tourism products for Japanese expectations. The main findings and conclusions are listed below.

Go Rural’2019 –  a manual of rural tourism products.

This is the third edition, updated and supplemented, based on the experience of the activities and results of last year’s marketing events.

This manual is aimed at helping discover rural destinations in the South of Finland, Estonia and Latvia beyond traditional touristic routes. The programmes and sites in this manual are based around small-scale accommodation, open farms, local producers, living traditions and sincere people. The people here have a close relationship with their natural surroundings and annual cycle. Each season has its own specific activities like mushrooming, berry picking, collecting herbs, ice-fishing and different agricultural jobs as well as traditional and seasonal celebrations. The countries are a haven for the tourist who loves nature, respects traditions and would like to experience them and their cultures more deeply.

Behind this manual there is a team of professional countryside tourism organisations and tour operators. For many years they have carried regular inspections of our accommodation and sites, have closely cooperated with national parks and nature experts, researched and developed new routes.


The sauna tradition is thought to originate somewhere in northern Europe around 2,000 BC and has remained an important part of cultural life to this day in many countries including Estonia, Latvia, and Finland. The locals indeed like to debate who now has the best saunas, but the truth is that their building techniques and traditions have evolved mostly in parallel for the past few thousand years, which is why saunas are a way of life and in many ways, the history of sauna is really a history of us. In addition to the sauna traditions the countryside provides a varied ambience of heritage – numerous national parks, contrasting coastlines, historic sites, varied landscapes, rich wildlife, charming small towns full of history and peaceful milieu.

Pilot customer journey testing trips: Report 29 March 2019

Routes to rural destinations for Japanese independent tourists in South-west Finland – Estonia – Latvia were pilot tested using “volunteer travellers” within the CAITO project. The main goal of the pilots was to identify gaps and difficulties in the route or customer’s journey.

Go Rural’2018 –  a manual of rural tourism products.

This is the second edition, updated and supplemented, based on the experience of the activities and results of last year’s marketing events.



Go Rural Food and Drinks – brochure

The publication introduces the reader with typical Finnish, Estonian and Latvian meals that are both traditional and contemporary and can be found on the menus of cafeterias and restaurants. The cuisine of our countries has lots in common in terms of food recipes, as well as the ways of product use. Fresh, seasonal local products are highly valued, however, each country has their own meals and traditions of cooking and serving them.



Seminar “Jaapani turisti kultuurilised erinevused ja turismiturg”(Cultural differences of Japanese tourism market and tourists), 14.12.2017

Turunduskommunikatsioon ( Raili Mengel)

Jaapani turismiturg: potentsiaal, jaotus ja müügikanalid, kuidas siseneda turule (Lea Sudakova)

Jaapani turisti kultuurilised erinevused: Kultuur, traditsioon, tarbija käitumine, ootused ja vajadused (Eri Miyano)

Sobivad tooted ja teenused Jaapani turule (Akane Nishikado)

“Go Rural” – Materials for travelers and tourism operators visiting south coast Finland, Estonia, Latvia

Practical Guide for Travelers Visiting SOUTH COAST FINLAND, ESTONIA, LATVIA (ENG)

Practical Guide for Travelers Visiting SOUTH COAST FINLAND, ESTONIA, LATVIA (JAP)

GoRural Image brochure ( JAP)

GoRural Tour operators brochure (JAP)

Feedback from the FAM visit in Latvia, Estonia and Finland, April 2017

The aim: tour guides in each country would make observations during the visits and discussions on the FAM visit participants’ comments related to the following points:

  • What things/attractions etc. were considered as positive during the FAM visit? (What was seen potential/successful)
  •  What was negative/needs to be improved?
  • How should the presented tourism provision/attractions/companies to be improved?
  • Was something (some offer) missing from the visit that would potentially interest Japanese tourists in our countries?
  • Were the products presented/packaged so that they can be bought, what about the prize-quality ratio?
  •  What could be USP (unique selling point) for our area in Japanese markets?
  • Any other observations?

In addition, it would be useful to have feedback about the FAM visit and it’s successes and failures (the practical organization).

FAM visit observations results LV FIN EE

Street interviews:  preliminary results

Conducted in Jan-Feb 2017 in Helsinki by university of Laurea students. The main research questions:

  • Who are those interested in rural tourism
  • What do they want from their rural tourism destination?

Street interviews preliminary results

JATA Tourism Expo Japan 2016:  Japanese Overseas Outbound Travel Market symposium

The symposium was organized in connection of JATA fair in a form of panel. 3 representatives of the major travel agencies (Mr. Hiroyuki Takahashi, CEO JTB Corp ( ), Mr. Seiji Matsuda, Hankyu Travel International Co ( ) and Mr. Akira Hirabayashi, H.I.S Co. Ltd ( were describing in turn their expectations and strategies in future related to overseas outbound travel. In addition, the chair from JATA (Japan Association of Travel Agents) Mr. Jungo Kikuma presented some of his ideas on the current situation. The symposium was held in Japanese with simultaneous translation to English.

Summary Outbound travel symposium

Market analysis, preliminary results

Anne Matilainen, University of Helsinki

Some general facts regarding Japanese tourism industry (more in material):

  • 12,8% of Japanese travel overseas, of this approx 94% come from the major cities.
  • Europe not popular destination at the moment, e.g. in France & Belgium the amount of Japanese tourists has decreased 60-70%.
  • Mainly at the moment experienced travelers through the travel agencies.
  • Japanese tourists can be divided into two groups, individualistic travelers and more conservative travelers.
  • Tourism industry is growing faster than travel agencies.
  • The Baltic and Japanese mentality was similar- reserved/shy and polite.

Market analysis

田園を旅しよう(ラトビア、エストニア、フィンランド) (PDF)

Presentations (PDF) of Seminar “Knowledge of the Japanese market”


Download: Reports166 FINAL.pdf

The objective of this desk study was to compile all the relevant existing information and recent previous studies relating to the rural tourism of Japanese visitors to Finland, Estonia and Latvia. This knowledge can be used to support rural tourism marketing to Japanese tourists. In addition, we identified issues to improve understanding about the different customer segments within the Japanese tourism market and potential impacts of marketing actions aimed at increasing the number of Japanese tourists in Finland, Estonia and Latvia. This review focuses on the general characteristics of Japanese tourists and describes the special challenges and advantages of rural tourism in the investigated countries.

University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute has had bears the main responsibility for writing and editing this report, but the national literature and information from Estonia and Latvia (especially sections concerning Japanese tourist market segments in these two countries) has been collected and edited by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and Faculty of Economics and Social Development at the
Latvia University of Agriculture.

We start by describing the statistics on Japanese tourism in the study countries, including the typical travelling groups. Then the images of the study countries among Japanese people, actions and themes and the ongoing trends and megatrends are assessed. Finally, Japanese tourists in rural destinations are presented, and conclusions are drawn.


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