Sébastien Duval in Japan

Sébastien Duval

Greetings from Sébastien Duval in Japan! In late May, I’ll do a business trip to Kyoto to check services & tours for a 300-attendee MICE event; on days off I’ll enjoy hiking plus outdoor hot springs 🙂

Passionate business development manager in Tokyo, I worked for the Paralympic Games, Japan’s reconstruction agency, and Japan’s ministries of agriculture, environment, and transport. I support Japan’s economy and local communities through the events, tourism and hospitality industries. With Japan Travel KK colleagues, I provide a comprehensive suite of services: consulting, content creation, digital marketing, guiding… and I closely consider world competition, diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability.

Nowadays, I promote the concerts of a famous international choir touring Japan to residents/travellers, night clubs in several cities, a summer restaurant, and a new Japanese performers troupe to MICE organizers worldwide. And upcoming work looks exciting!
  • May 2024: Meet officials of a hot-spring city.
  • May 2024: Guide high-net-worth Australians in Tokyo.
  • May 2024: Finalize a partnership with a French travel agency.
  • May 2024: Consulting for helicopter tours (later promote with a partner magazine).
  • May ~ June 2024: Business trips in Kyoto to organize a 3-day MICE event for ±300 Indian professionals.
  • June ~ September 2024: Curate exclusive experiences in west Japan for discerning millionaire/billionaire travellers.
  • November 2024: Guide a French group during a 2-week spiritual tour.
  • 2025: Guide a French family in Kansai and beyond during the World Expo.

On This Page

  1. Business Development Manager
  2. Clients & Services Examples
  3. Beyond

Business Development Manager

I am an events/hospitality/tourism/travel expert knowledgeable about Japan, with international perspectives, tech-savvy, supported by diverse professionals, with access to Japan Travel’s resources. I always strive for clients’ success rather than just pageviews, and I favour long-term relationships.

Business development manager and consultant for Japan Travel media/travel agency, I help companies, organizations and the Japanese government based on my 20 years in Japan and stays in 21 countries. Together, we elevate your strategy, improve quality of service, create bespoke products, raise awareness, increase sales, promote long stays and world-class events, attract & satisfy foreigners, revitalize local economies, and fight depopulation through job creation.

Events, Hospitality, Tourism, Travel Expert

I have a good grasp of the events, hospitality, tourism, and travel industries from the perspective of both travellers and service providers. Passionate tourist/resident and Japan consultant, I am also a certified guide with experience for leisure and corporate tours, former travel agent, former MICE organizer (tourism chair of SUI international conference), former speaker in Japanese at national conferences (in Japan) and in English at international conferences, regular attendee of events such as Tourism Expo Japan and Wellness international conference (and occasionally Castle Festival…), and occasional attendee of events such as Earth Celebration, Comiket and Sapporo Winter Festival.

I am familiar with the market of affluent travellers. I graduated from Japan’s Business School of Travel Industry. Furthermore, I organized tens of seminars on information technologies at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics. I tailor services to the unique needs of travel/tourism/hospitality business in Japan, and help identify/leverage travel preferences (e.g. content creation). I was invited to write an article about (vegan) travel in Japan for the international/American magazine VegWorld.

As an expert, I was notably mentioned in international newspapers (BBC, Salaam Gateway Dubai), in Japanese newspapers (e.g. Chunichi Shimbun), in travel news (Skift, TTG Asia), and on radio shows (e.g. One Life Radio).

Sebastien Duval, a Tokyo-based travel consultant for Japan Travel who works in the inbound tourism industry, is well-versed in helping the local market meet the needs of international visitors.

BBC – Japan’s diverse meetings and events destinations

Sébastien […] is so knowledgeable & funny […] Japan can have a bad rap as not having vegan options but he really does a great job of showing that they do and there is a plethora and it’s all really colourful & delicious, and that made me really excited!

One Life Radio – Interview: Courtney Garza, VEGWORLD Magazine’s editor-in-chief


Chunichi Shimbun – Hokuriku-shinkansen extension: awareness remains low

Knowledgeable About Japan

In Japan for 20 years, I explored from arctic Hokkaido to tropical Okinawa, attended diverse festivals & ceremonies (and even a 2.5D musical), practiced crafts and martial arts with masters, discussed with diverse Japanese, and read a lot. Through everyday life, holidays and work, I learnt about both the consumer and provider sides, especially regarding ryokans and hot spring resorts (notably discussing with owners and experts). Finally, I follow the news about Japan in English and Japanese. I gave talks in Japanese at domestic conferences.

Podcast Business Success Japan – Sébastien Duval in Japan about Japanese hospitality
Podcast Globetrotter Pod – Sébastien Duval in Japan about sustainable travel and regenerative tourism
Get Japan – Travel tips by Sébastien Duval in Japan
Seek Sustainable Japan – Sébastien Duval in Japan about the future of sustainable travel in Japan

French With International Perspectives

My life is a rich tapestry half woven in Asia, with homes on 3 continents and explorations in 22 countries. This immersion fostered my deep understanding of diverse cultures and the intricacies of inbound markets. My network reflects this global perspective – I collaborated with international teams, connected with 6,600+ pros, and managed a community of 25,000+ volunteers speaking 56+ languages. Fluency in English, French, and Japanese, alongside proficiency in Korean and Spanish, empowers me to bridge cultural divides and cultivate meaningful relationships.

My journey as a guide (for 43 nationalities so far) and travel agent unveiled market-related preferences, from “low season” interpretations to significant storytelling, helping anticipate and better serve world guests. Additionally, catering to dietary restrictions, prayer spaces, and souvenir preferences for diverse religious/cultural backgrounds (Hindus, Jews, Muslims, vegans, vegetarians…) instilled a profound appreciation for sensitive cultural considerations.

As a consultant, I leverage international data for market research. Demonstrating my strong interest, my PhD thesis already (2006) included France vs Japan comparisons. Nowadays, I combine cultural understanding and data-driven analysis to customize strategies that resonate, typically for westerners.

Finally, I monitor key markets in local languages, identifying opportunities about local/global trends and major events to adapt my clients’ approaches to their clientele. Overall, I offer a unique blend of cultural understanding and strategic expertise to help businesses and destinations thrive.

Empowered By Digital Technologies

Advocate of digital transformation (DX), I streamline my processes with automation and Generative AI. Future-oriented, I continuously use LinkedIn Learning and follow innovations.

LinkedIn Learning – Certificate related to artificial intelligence

As a travel professional, I promoted AI-powered campervans and created a manual for an AR-enhanced museum. Besides, I have experience with photo/audio/video editing, SEO, online advertising, digital marketing, live streaming, podcast creation/hosting…

Travel podcast created & hosted by Sébastien Duval in Japan

Member of the Virtual Reality Society of Japan with a PhD in information science, I researched ubiquitous computing from biofeedback control to smart city development in Japan, South Korea and the USA. Furthermore, I chaired IT conferences and co-authored the book “Smart Clothing: Technology And Applications”.

Book – Smart Clothing: Technology And Applications

Collaborating With Professionals Worldwide

Thanks to my social nature and participation during various events and on-site projects, I met a wide range of individuals. Fostered through online and offline engagement, my LinkedIn network alone exceeds 6,600 professionals including:

  • Geographically diverse connections, with a strong presence in Japan (35%), USA (14%), UK (7%), and France (7%).
  • Mostly travel (12%), technology (11%), food (9%), and hospitality (5%) experts.
  • Japanese officials, industry leaders, competitors, sustainability/vegan influencers…

I actively leverage my networks for collaboration and mutual benefit. For example, we exchange valuable knowledge and timely answers, identify pertinent resources, and stay current on industry trends. Also, I connect freelancers to opportunities, and support students seeking internships and career guidance.

Through these networks, I met my employer at Japan Travel and found esteemed clients related to events, MICE, and veganism. Finally, I landed media/news exposure for myself, my company, my clients, and Japan.

With Access To Japan Travel KK’s Resources

My company’s core resources are its staff, portal and social media accounts.

With diverse backgrounds and complementary knowledge/skills, my colleagues bring a myriad of useful foreigner perspectives, insights, and sources of multilingual information/data bolstered by great teamwork. It’s easy to succeed in western markets with a New Zealander CEO, American COO, British creative director, Australian project manager, French/German/Italian/Japanese travel agents… When in-house staff lack specialized knowledge or availability, we rely on trusted freelancers especially for photography and videography.

Japan Travel’s public portal in 15 languages contains 50,000+ articles by 2,000+ writers (my profile should be its only Sébastien Duval in Japan), covering the 47 Japanese prefectures, all mainstream themes, and many specialized topics (e.g. vegan travel). Google organically highlights our portal, typically ranking it №1 for “Japan Event“, №1-2 for “Osaka Event” and №3 for “Tokyo Event“.

Finally, Japan Travel publishes and interacts on diverse SNS platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, X/Twitter, a Chinese platform… On the contrary to many competitors, our social accounts are organically grown, leading to a highly-engaged audience of Japan fans. Instagram is most successful, with 300,000+ followers, often 15,000+ views per reel, and occasionally viral content exceeding 1 million views. Globally, we reach millions of people all over the world every month.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Japan Travel (@japantravelcom)

My Clients & Services

My services were used by the Paralympics organizers, European companies, Japan’s ministries & cities, Japanese convention/tourism bureaus, and Japanese companies. Together, we strategized, created tourism resources, and showcased events, products & destinations to myriads of potential customers in Japan and beyond. Satisfaction seeded by my commitment to exceeding expectations led to repeat business and valuable introductions to new decision-makers in client organizations.

🌏 World-Class

Member of the press during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, I played a pivotal role as the sole on-site, full-time news writer for the French official website. Witnessing the inspiring athletes and fostering collaboration with a global team of journalists from the UK, Spain, and beyond fuelled my passion for amplifying the stories of world-class events. Now, my sights are set on contributing to the success of the upcoming 2025 World Expo, another prestigious event bound to showcase Japan’s innovation and spirit.

Sébastien Duval at the Paralympics press centre
Sébastien Duval in Japan – Press centre of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Paralympics press team
Press team of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

As a certified guide and English/Japanese interpreter, I facilitated successful visits to Japan for a distinguished clientele. It included executives of multinational corporations on factory tours and high-net-worth Middle Eastern families on cultural explorations. A particularly memorable moment involved questions from an heir interested in buying a skyscraper near Tokyo station…

🌍 International Businesses

I helped a British company organizing internship programs on 4 continents raise awareness of their internship opportunities in Tokyo. Through a unique/impactful landing page, we generated 13,000+ visits, driving a significant portion to their official website.

Beyond Academy
Beyond Academy’s community section on Japan Travel portal

Besides, I established a strategic partnership with a renowned French travel agency. First, we strive to boost sales of public transportation services for both companies. Next, we shall promote their unique off-the-beaten-track tours in Japan.

🗾 Japan – National Government

Japanese ministries & agencies used my consulting services to shape the future of Japan, its economy, and its communities. For example:

MOE – Ministry of the Environment 🌄 Weeks sunrise bathing at open-air hot springs, hiking through lush landscapes, thrilled when canyoning, snorkelling in crystal-clear waters teeming with life, and stargazing with Japanese rangers at national parks such as Ashizuri-uwakai and Yoshino-Kumano. All along, I shared insights and answered questions to develop cruelty-free, sustainable & regenerative tourism in Japan for all seasons.

Unique, endangered, and simply beautiful nature in Ashizuri-uwakai national park
Sébastien Duval in Japan – Canyoning in Ashizuri-uwakai national park

MAFF – Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 🌾 I tested and helped enhance a traditional cooking class in Tokyo, introducing a vegan variation during the process. Afterwards, I made strategic recommendations during a meeting aiming to increase Japan’s rice exports.

MLIT – Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 🚗 I gave feedback during a 9-day road trip featuring off-the-beaten-track destinations in central Japan. Afterwards, I wrote English/French articles (16,000+ views) including EV info and activities for kids to help revitalize local economies. Besides, I provided consulting on luxury adventure tourism in Mount Fuji area.

Reconstruction Agency ☢️ During a 2-day mission near Fukushima nuclear plant, I helped develop “hope tourism“. The goal was to provide emotional & financial support to local communities following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Practical matters, risk perception, cultural differences, and storytelling were all important.

Sébastien Duval in Japan – Masked at TEPCO decommissioning archive center

🗾 Japan – Local Governments

Japanese prefectures & cities used my services to develop their tourism and sales: consulting, project management, tour creation, training, writing… For example:

Ishikawa Prefecture 🚐 I managed a video creation project about road trips with AI-powered campervans in Noto Peninsula. The resulting 9-minute video rose awareness, garnering 37,000+ views mostly among foreign residents and westerners abroad.

Japan Travel’s campervan trip video for Ishikawa Prefecture

Goto Archipelago ✝️ I remotely provided consulting about Europeans’ faiths and Christian pilgrimages. Besides, I advised on site to develop religious tourism with island hopping, cycling tourism, religious/food souvenir sales, and branding. Finally, I wrote a travel article in French (3,000+ views) to raise awareness in France.

Wajima City 🚵 In the wake of a major earthquake that prevented business & leisure trips for months, I spearheaded a project to ensure the continuity of Wajima’s inbound cycling tourism initiative. By pivoting from on-site seminars (inaccessible) to digital manuals (usable anytime), I safeguarded Wajima’s investments constrained by fiscal deadlines and future-proofed their training program. I wrote 4 in-depth manuals (156 pages) for aspiring inbound cycling guides, integrating generic best practices, region-specific insights based on a test tour I organized, cultural info/tips, and data about local/national tourism. Inclusive, the manuals even mention tours for disabled cyclists and families with very young children. This training program should help restart Wajima’s tourism economy then contribute to its sustained growth from 2025.

🗾 Japan – Local Bureaus

Japanese convention, tourism and safety bureaus used my services to redefine strategies and to attract foreign businesspeople & holidaymakers. For example:

Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau 📱 I advised during a meeting aiming to redefine the media strategy of the Go Tokyo official website and social networks.

Okinawa Marine Leisure Safety Bureau 🪸 I gave a talk with Q&A about inbound marine sustainable tourism during an online seminar in Japanese for Okinawa businesspeople. Better understanding sustainability and regenerative practices enabled attendees to identify and capitalize on opportunities matching their own businesses.

Sébastien Duval kayaking
Sébastien Duval in Japan – Kayaking in Okinawa

Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau 🫱🏼‍🫲🏽 I managed a MICE video creation project aiming to showcase Osaka’s vibrancy and world-class potential to international organizers of meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions. The strategic online launch coincided with a meeting of G7 trade ministers in Osaka. Delightfully, many decisionmakers & stakeholders participated, top hotels and the LGBTQ+ community (which Osaka champions) collaborated, and Osaka international exhibition center displays our video on its grand entrance screen. Afterwards, I also managed projects showcasing Osaka’s unique cultural experiences, from spiritual tourism to an innovative artistic event that many foreign tourists & residents attended.

Japan Travel’s MICE video for Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau

🗾 Japanese Businesses

Japanese businesses, including a news agency, used my services to strategize, raise awareness, increase sales, enhance satisfaction, reduce risks… For example:

Causette Joli 💅🏼 I managed a project including brand photography and promotion targeting female and LGBTQ+ markets. The campaign increased awareness about shops in east & west Japan, and sales of location-exclusive & limited-edition beauty products.

Tokushima Prefectural Museum 🦕 Collaborating with historians, I wrote a 28-page illustrated manual in English for first-time guides of foreign groups. We fostered a deeper understanding of the region and Japan, enhanced satisfaction, optimized flows, and reduced risks due to conflicting perceptions of international wars. Practically, the manual highlighted rarities, interactive artifacts, and good angles for kids. Finally, an FAQ based on best practices covered on-site photography, drawing in the exhibition rooms, wheelchair rentals…

Yuranza troupe 🎵 I wrote a reference article (6,000+ views) and managed a digital campaign to inform/convince organizers of MICE events and corporate tours. Yuranza invents and performs bespoke one-time-only shows in Japan. Besides, its inclusive workshops suit wheelchair & blind travellers. As MICE events often operate with multiyear planning horizons, we anticipate measurable results from late 2024.

Yuranza in Japan
Yuranza during a temple-stay event in Japan

More About Sébastien Duval In Japan

You can check dedicated pages to learn about my career and education & certifications. Explore my blog posts for updates about projects, reactions by experts (follow links to see comments/reposts on LinkedIn) and information about events, travel, tourism, and hospitality in Japan.

My profound love for Japan extends beyond its beauty. I witnessed its resilience through natural disasters and pandemics, staying despite hardships after living the 2011 Tohoku earthquake (home between Fukushima & Tokyo), during the COVID-19 pandemic, and after witnessing the 2024 Noto earthquake on TV (business trips in Noto 8 weeks earlier and more planned that month). This intense country has diverse gorgeous nature, fascinating cultures, exciting festivals… and I have a deep appreciation for its wonderful people (I’m very grateful to great artisans & farmers who taught me so much) and traditions, including a great sense of hospitality.

I’d be glad to help you enjoy and/or succeed in Japan.