KANSAI Tourism Bureau and Mastercard form a strategic partnership to cooperate to expand tourism and tourist spending in 10 prefectures in Kansai region

February 21, 2023 | Japan

[From L-R] KANSAI Tourism Bureau: Yoshitaka Toui, Representative Director and Executive Director
Masayoshi Matsumoto, President
Mastercard: Lim Kok Kee, Senior Vice President, Government Engagement, Asia Pacific
Nicola Villa, Executive Vice President, Government Engagement
Ken Uchiyama, Country Manager, Japan

General Incorporated Foundation KANSAI Tourism Bureau and Mastercard have agreed to form an alliance to expand and promote tourism in the Kansai region. This includes working towards promoting tourism in relation to the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, and drive a shift to a digital economy. To achieve these objectives, they have formed the strategic partnership from Tuesday, February 21, 2023, that lasts until the end of 2025.

The KANSAI Tourism Bureau, the sole 'wide-area cooperation DMO (Destination Management Organization)' in the Kansai region covering the 10 prefectures of Kansai (Fukui, Mie, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori, and Tokushima), and Mastercard, a global technology company in the payments industry, have joined forces to accelerate inbound tourism in Kansai and to develop activities to attract and increase spending by both domestic and international tourists. This is the first time for the KANSAI Tourism Bureau to form and sign a partnership agreement (Memorandum of Understanding: MOU) with an international payments network, and the first time for Mastercard to form and sign a MOU with a 'wide-area cooperation DMO' in Japan.

Masayoshi Matsumoto, President of the KANSAI Tourism Bureau (Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation), said, “The KANSAI Tourism Bureau is the organization established by joint efforts of public and private sector designed to promote wide-area tourism in the 10 prefectures of the Kansai region. In addition to the well-known cities of Osaka and Kyoto, the Bureau aims to develop all of the prefectures in Kansai as “global destinations” by disseminating information on the rich and diverse attractions found throughout the region.

Here in Osaka, we will host the Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo, which brings together people from all over the world. Preparations are steadily underway for this event with plans for the preliminary opening of the Umekita 2nd development project around Osaka Station, the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line to Tsuruga, and the renovation of the Kansai International Airport terminal. Osaka also aims to open an integrated resort with a casino in 2029, investing heavily in urban development, transportation, and tourism infrastructure.

To maximize this opportunity, the public and private sectors, led by the KANSAI Tourism Bureau, are uniting as “ONE KANSAI” to promote inbound tourism. The Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai in particular, is a great opportunity for Kansai to bolster its global profile. In order to encourage the 28.2 million visitors expected to visit the Expo to explore other parts of the Kansai region, we need to enhance recognition of Kansai while building momentum for the Expo.

We believe that it is very significant to form the partnership with Mastercard at a time like this. We hope that Mastercard will spread its understanding of the appeal of the Kansai region to its 3 billion cardholders through the "Priceless" platform, which offers special experiences. We also look forward to an expansion of inbound consumption through Mastercard’s cashless services and safe and secure payment network.”

Ken Uchiyama, Japan Country Manager of Mastercard, said, “With the easing of COVID-19 border restrictions, the share of experience-based spending (so-called "koto" spending), such as travel and hospitality services, is expected to continue to rise. As Japan is one of the world's most attractive destinations, it is expected to see a further rise in inbound demand on the back of the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai. In order to provide inbound and domestic travelers with the best possible travel experience, it is becoming increasingly important to develop a global standard payment infrastructure that enables safe, secure , and convenient purchasing, and to provide effective value propositions based on a detailed understanding of travelers' needs. Through this partnership with the KANSAI Tourism Bureau, Mastercard will continue to support the revitalization of the tourism industry and local communities, as well as ensure safe and secure cashless payments, by utilizing Mastercard’s global network, payment data-based consulting services and insights, with regards to tourism."

Under the MOU, the two parties have agreed to collaborate in the following areas:

1. Leverage Mastercard’s marketing platform:

  • Increase recognition of “KANSAI” as an extensive tourist destination by providing information on the region’s tourism resources and attractions to overseas cardholders.
  • Expand tourist consumption by offering merchant benefits and Priceless tourism experiences to overseas cardholders.

2. Measures to Increase Spending by Tourists in the Kansai Regions

  • Promote cashless, digital payments at merchants in the Kansai region to enable domestic and international tourists to enjoy stress-free payments experiences.

3. Initiatives for Post-Pandemic Travel

  • Joint development of new concepts and solutions for next-generation tourism that are aligned with the “new normal” and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Overview of Partnership Ceremony

Date: 14:30~15:00, Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Venue: Conference Room 302, 30F Kansai Economic Federation

   (30F Nakanoshima Center Building, 6-2-27, Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka)


- (General incorporated association) KANSAI Tourism Bureau:

  • President, Masayoshi Matsumoto(Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation
  • Senior Executive Director, Yoshitaka Toi
  • Deputy Secretary General, Keizo Nishikawa

- Mastercard:

  • Executive Vice President, Government Engagement, Global, Nicola Villa
  • Senior Vice President, Government Engagement, Asia Pacific, Lim Kok Kee
  • Country Manager, Japan, Ken Uchiyama
  • Director, Government Engagement, Japan, Yuki Fujii


Media Contacts

Nishikawa, Fujita, Ohno, Kansai Tourism Bureau
06-6223-7204 | com@kansai.or.jp
Sakura Oguro, Arisa Akagi, Lilika Okita, Vector, Inc
Yoshiko Yeomans, Mastercard
+81 (3) 5728 5239 | Yoshiko.Yeomans@mastercard.com

About general incorporated foundation KANSAI Tourism Bureau

Established in April 2017, KANSAI Tourism Bureau is the only wide-area collaborative DMO in Kansai that covers the 10 prefectures in the region (Fukui, Mie, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori, and Tokushima). It is comprised of local governments, economic organizations, tourism promotion organizations, and private businesses mainly related to tourism, and works to promote tourism among international travelers, as an organization free from the boundaries of prefectures and public and private sectors. With a united resolve as “ONE KANSAI”, the Bureau aims to make “KANSAI” the destination of choice for global travelers by maximizing the opportunity to host the Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai, which is expected to bring together people from all over the world.


About Mastercard (NYSE: MA)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.