Wamazing Inc.Kato Fumiko
Please tell us about WAmazing’s tourist information and reservation service for foreign tourists, which also offers free SIM cards.
Wamazing Inc. runs a matching business for the tourism industry, local communities, and foreign tourists (free individual travelers).
Our smartphone app for foreign tourists, “WAmazing,” allows users to search, reserve, and purchase seats for more than 10,000 accommodation facilities and snow activities. Users who sign up for our service (free of charge) are eligible to receive SIM cards at 20 major international airports in Japan, which allow them to have Internet access with 500 MB of data to use over up to 15 days during their stay in Japan. We have mainly provided our service to tourists from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will launch the English edition in this autumn (October) to further expand our service globally.
In about one and a half years since we launched this service, our app has been downloaded by about 190,000 people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other places around the world.
WAmazing is a coined word that combines “Wa,” a Japanese word referring to “和”, and the English word “Amazing”.
As Japan is gaining international attention as a hot tourist destination these days, we would like to provide a service that covers tourist information from all over Japan, while making it easier for foreign tourists to visit and enjoy various places with our online reservation and payment system.
Tell us what made you start your own business.
In the previous job, I was engaged in regional revitalization through tourism industry. I also founded a few new online businesses. For Japan, and its rural areas in particular, which have seen the rising number of tourists every year, inbound tourism is a very promising industry that could help them survive into the future.
However, it is very tough for local communities and companies to communicate and promote local tourism information to the world on their own. I wanted to start a business to connect local communities and companies in Japan and individual tourists visiting Japan through WAmazing.
The number of international tourists has been growing around the world. Today, there are about 1.2 billion international arrivals a year. The number is estimated to further grow to 1.8 billion in 2030. A large portion of the increasing tourists is Asian people.
I think the inbound tourism market will provide great opportunities for revitalization to rural areas, which have been weakening due to the declining birthrate and aging population.
Tell us about the future developments.
Tourists'major expenditure items include accommodation, shopping, tourism activities, dining, and transportation. Our service is focused on accommodations and activities at the moment, but I hope to expand the scope to include shopping, dining, and transportation as well, for which great demand is expected.
We have resolve communication-related inconvenience and dissatisfaction through the provision of free SIM cards at international airports. For the future, I would also like to develop a system to provide evacuation information and so on in cases of disasters, so that we can protect international visitors from trouble and anxiety in emergencies.