Sell Japan as add-on to Far East itineraries

Traditional lanterns at a Japanese shrine

Japan hopes Middle Eastern visitors to the Far East will add on extra days in the Land of the Rising Sun.

“All Arab travellers visiting destinations like Malaysia, Thailand and Australia are our market too,” Kenichi Sawaguchi, senior director of planning & project for Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East, told TTN.
New flight connections to the Far East have boosted inbound tourism, he added. “With Cathay’s connecting flights, we are opening a new destination for Arab travellers visiting Hong Kong. The new Emirates flight to Nagoya and Qatar airways connection to Osaka have also increased numbers of visitors to Japan,” Sawaguchi said.
Japan participated this year at this year’s ATM for the second time and while it is still too early to see concrete results, partners from Japan have reported an increase in enquiries from the Gulf, he said.
“We are also working together with agents to providing them the latest information regarding Japan. This month, the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) is planning to hold World Travel Exhibition in Tokyo. Japanese travels agents are keen to bring in more tourists from the Middle East. While the other destinations like Malaysia are popular, statistics have revealed that there is a need for a destination in the Far East, and Japan has all the right ingredients to attract them.”
The government’s innovative Visit Japan campaign is opening up the country to thousands more tourists. The country is also promoting Invest Japan to welcome more investors from the Middle East.
The number of visitors to Japan is expected to rise to 15 million by 2010. “2005 saw arrivals of 7.45 million tourists with the majority arrivals from Korea with 32.8 per cent of arrivals. The Middle East is still at an all time low of 0.1 per cent of arrivals,” Sawaguchi said.
Japan is an all-year round destination and it boasts of an exotic culture. “It is important to make sure that we offer the latest in news and information regarding the Japanese treasure of tourism. The best season visiting Japan is spring and autumn. For visitors coming in the spring, they are able to experience our cherry blossoms and those in autumn, the colourful mountains. Tokyo is a city that is a mix of modern and traditional. We also offer a lot of shopping,” added Sawaguchi.
Japan has seen a major boost to its luxury hotel market recently. The Conrad, Mandarin Oriental and Ritz Carlton are all boosting the number of high-end rooms in Tokyo. The Peninsula is also scheduled to open in September.