Showcasing Japan at AIME 2015

Showcasing Japan at AIME 2015

Showcasing Japan at AIME 2015

SYDNEY February 4, 2015 –The Japanese meetings industry continues to demonstrate its unlimited potential in the wake of securing one of the world’s biggest international events—the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The entire country is actively developing new infrastructure and innovative programmes to further advance Japan’s meetings prowess.

Japan is Closer than Ever

Several airlines have introduced new direct routes to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, located in the heart of the city. Haneda now offers daily direct connections to major European, North American and Asian cities and travellers can reach downtown Tokyo or Yokohama in only 30 minutes.  There will also be new Qantas flights from Sydney to Haneda and Brisbane to Narita commencing in August 2015. Additionally, a new exclusive sales price for international visitors using the Narita Express train from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo has cut the cost of transfer by nearly 50%.

New bullet train route

The shinkansen, Japan’s world-famous bullet train, will soon be reaching new corners of the country at top speeds, with extensions to Kanazawa opening in March 2015. The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, an extension of the Nagano Shinkansen Line, is planned to begin operations in March 2015, linking the cities of Nagano and Kanazawa. The newly built E7 series shinkansen train, with a maximum speed of 260kph, will be running on this line.

Also, Hokkaido’s first shinkansen train will start operation in March 2016, connecting northern Honshu island (Shin-Aomori) with the southern tip of Hokkaido island (Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto).

The shinkansen route will eventually extend further into Hokkaido, making high speed rail traffic between Honshu and Hokkaido possible. This benefits not only travelers but also Hokkaido residents: shortened travel hours will encourage people to travel more often between the two islands and this will further stimulate cultural and business communications between Hokkaido and Japan’s northeastern and metropolitan capital areas.

More International Hotel Brands are Choosing Japan

The Aman Tokyo—the brand’s first city property—opened its doors on 22 December 2014.  The hotel sits on the top six floors of the Otemachi Tower in the financial district, offering spectacular views of the city from the 84 guest rooms and suites.

Hyatt debuted its first Andaz brand hotel in Japan when Andaz Tokyo opened on 11 June, 2014. This boutique hotel offers 770 sqm of meetings space, including The Rooftop Studio, which can host 80 people for a banquet, and the Tokyo Studio for up to 220 delegates.

Ritz-Carlton Kyoto opened on 7 February 2014. Located on the scenic banks of the Kamogawa River in Kyoto, this luxury hotel combines the traditional Japanese aesthetic with modern comfort.

Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel opened in Japan’s tallest skyscraper complex, Abeno Harukas, on 7 March 2014. The rooms provide a relaxing environment insulated from the hustle and bustle of the world below.

Hilton Okinawa Chatan opened in July 2014. With a divisible ballroom and meeting room, a board room, contemporary A/V technology and dedicated event staff, this hotel in Okinawa is ideal for events.

Other expected developments in the next year include:

New Convention facilities

 Sendai, the political, economic and cultural centre of Japan’s Tohoku region, will have a new convention facility in Spring 2015.  This is a major element of preparing to host a large conference, the third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UN-WCDRR) with approximately 40,000 delegates in March 2015. Connected to the existing Sendai International Centre, this new facility will add an additional 3,000 square metres of exhibition space and four meeting rooms to the convention zone’s event capacity.

Tax free shopping in Japan

Visitors to Japan are now able to enjoy tax-free shopping more than ever. With the aim of increasing the number of foreign visitors, the Japanese government increased the number of tax-free goods for foreign visitors in October 2014. Some of the popular souvenir items such as food, alcohol, cosmetics, medicine, etc. are subject to the tax exemption.

Three Japanese Scientists Honoured with Nobel Prize in Physics!

On October 7, 2014, three scientists from Japan (Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura) were announced as the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. That brings the total number of Japanese Nobel Laureates to 22, more than any other country in Asia. Since the turn of the century, a number of Japanese scientists have been awarded this high honour; since 2008, at least one Japanese person has won the award each year. Scientists affiliated with Nagoya University have been especially prominent among these ranks, with two chemistry and four physics laureates honoured between 2001 and 2014.

A great academic environment is one of the qualities making Japan very attractive as a MICE destination. Japan has long been setting the pace with cutting-edge research and development in many industries, and business clusters are found all over the country, offering ample opportunities to arrange technical visits and networking opportunities.

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More LCCs flying to Japan!

New flights from Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia X and from Hong Kong by Vanilla Air to Narita started in November 2014. During the year 2014, approximately 15 routes were newly launched by LCCs, making it easier for travellers from Asia and Australia to fly to Japan. With the waiving of visa requirements for Southeast Asian countries, LCCs are becoming an important factor for Japan to reach the goal of 20 million visitors per year by 2020.

App for free Wi-Fi in Japan

Starting on 1 December 2014, the “Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi” app is available for use at 143 subway stations in Tokyo, and inside Toei network buses. The app is available for Android and iOS.

The app enables travellers to search for free Wi-Fi connections. Starting from your current location, Wi-Fi hotspots in your vicinity will be displayed.  You can also search for Wi-Fi hotspots around major cities or train stations. To connect to free Wi-Fi simply launch the app when you reach the area and tap the “Connect” button to get online.

All of the features can be used free of charge and registration only has to be done once, so you won’t have to re-register in each area. Also, it is now possible to register using your Facebook account. The service is available in 11 languages – English, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Korean, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, French, Spanish, German and Japanese.

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Japan welcomed over 13 million visitors in 2014

A special ceremony was held at Narita Airport on 22 December 2014 to commemorate Japan welcoming its 13 millionth visitor. Preliminary inbound visitor numbers indicate that by the end of December 2014 this number reached 13,414,000. According to statistics released by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) this is a 29.4% increase compared to 2013 and the highest ever recorded since data collection began in 1964.

ATM withdrawals using foreign cards becomes easier than ever?

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind, an initiative is underway to increase the number of ATMs in Japan allowing cash withdrawals using foreign credit cards. Japan’s three largest banks are all planning to roll out ATMs that accept foreign credit cards, facilitating ease of travel and shopping for visitors from overseas.

There are already about 45,000 ATMs in Japan at which foreign-issued credit cards can be used. These are at post offices and convenience stores across the country, as well as airports, train stations, and many shopping facilities. The ATMs provide convenient access to cash for many foreign visitors. Instructions, credit card statements and vocal cues are virtually always offered in multiple languages. Now, one of Japan’s three megabanks plans to adopt ATMs that accept foreign cards by March 2015. This is expected to improve convenience for foreign business travellers.

Japan’s Cities Aim to Strengthen Their Meetings Strategy

The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) has designated seven cities as Global MICE Cities that will be the target of a new strategy to improve Japan’s competitiveness. Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka, Osaka, and Nagoya were selected to receive focused support from the national government through the Global MICE Cities programme to strengthen each city’s unique marketing strategy based on key industries. This is part of the government’s overall growth strategy to promote science, technology and innovation.

“This year we’re delighted to represent Japan at AIME with 6 co-exhibitors, including Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, JTB Global Marketing & Travel, Nippon Travel Agency, Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau, THE J TEAM – Japan DMC and Osaka Government Tourism Bureau. Please stop by and visit the Japan Booth (#A600) to pick up the latest information on Japan’s convention cities and tourist attractions. Furthermore, we will be hosting a Happy Hour with sushi event on 24th February from 16:30-17:30. Join us for this special occasion to meet with the representatives from Japan”, commented Hiroshi Kuwamoto, Executive Director, JNTO Sydney.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is involved in a broad range of activities promoting Japan as a vibrant, beautiful destination, with unique cultural attractions, exciting cities, and friendly people, through various activities overseas as well as tourism-promoting activities in Japan.

Japan Meeting and Incentives: