Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Campaigns urge foreigners to pleeease visit Japan

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Japan’s tourist industry is in dire straits. In May, figures collected by JNTO (Japan National Tourism Association) showed that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country had dropped by 50.4 percent compared to last year. Though that’s a slight improvement on April, during which numbers were down by a massive 62.5 percent, it’s not as if foreigners are flocking back to Japan in droves. Fears of seismic activity, tsunami and, of course, radiation, are all keeping the numbers of overseas visitors down. So what’s it going to take to lure visitors back to the land of the rising sun? Here are few of the current “pleeease visit Japan” campaigns.

To increase the numbers of bums on airplane seats between Japan and Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific launched their “We Love Japan” campaign last month. Giving away 500 flights between Hong Kong and Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo, the company hoped to boost numbers of tourists as well as restore the confidence of Hong Kong citizens in Japan.

Another way of getting people back into the country is to demonstrate how safe it is, and that’s the modus operandi of the “Travel Volunteer in Japan” campaign. Created by Magellan Resorts travel agency, the competition offers the chance for one lucky winner to travel the length and breadth of the country for a total of 100 days. Reporting back on the experience to the world, the traveler will hopefully show just how safe Japan now is for tourists. Open to all non-residents, the closing date is July 31.

Though these campaigns by private companies really seem to be on the right track, Japan’s own tourism agency appears to be at a bit of a loss when it comes to bringing the tourists back. A campaign video titled “Message From Japan” (see above), which was shown in over 133 countries at airports, embassies and even in New York’s Times Square, features boy band Arashi extolling the joys of their native country. Japan Probe quite rightly pointed out that Arashi, while well-known in Asia, are completely unknown in other parts of the world. We agree that choosing native artists with an international profile, or at reasonable handle on English, might be a better approach. Luckily, last month Lady Gaga flew into Japan to lend her support, which probably did a lot more good than this this costly Arashi promo.

What do you think? Are you ready to visit Japan?

Japan, you look like you could use a long vacation

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

KNT is offering holidays of up to 22 days

The buzzword for this summer among  travel agents is ロングバケーション (long vacation). KNT, ANA airlines and JTB have all recently launched campaigns to encourage Japanese to take longer holidays than normal. Facing a long hot summer of possible power shortages, it’s likely that many customers might take the bait.

While JTB is offering long vacation package holidays for up to 15 days, KNT travel has trumped them with a selection of holidays of up to 22 days. All locations offered are overseas, allowing stressed-out Japanese to put a bit of distance between themselves and the ailing Fukushima nuclear reactor.

If the concept of long holidays does appeal to Japanese, it remains to be seen which locations will be popular. Both relaxing beach vacations in locations like Hawaii, Bali and Guam are being offered alongside trips to cooler climates. To appeal to those desperate to escape the heat, KNT has also launched a range of クールバカンス (cool vacations) and locations include Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Japanese summertime is wintertime for southern hemisphere climates, so it’s even possible to go snowboarding in New Zealand.

For those who want to stay in Japan, ANA is offering packages holidays to Hokkaido, Kyushu and Okinawa for up to 14 days from June 1. Hokkaido’s summers are nice and cool whereas Kyushu and Okinawa offer many beautiful locations suited to beach bums. Despite the heat down south, power saving strictures will not apply, so you won’t be made to feel guilty for turning on the aircon in your hotel room.

Typically, it’s rather hard for Japanese workers to get their bosses to agree to long vacations. This season, however, might be different, according to Kyodo News, Toshiba has just announced that it is introducing two-three week summer holidays for employees so it can cut production and meet government power saving goals. Rather than facing opposition from their boss, employees, at least those working in industries that are looking to meet power saving targets, might be actively encouraged to embrace the incipient long vacation trend.

 

Japan by the numbers (10.23.10)

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Entame tours: Let us entertain and guide you

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

KNT Entame tours

KNT! Entame tours


Ever dreamed of high-fiving your favorite J-pop star or hanging out in the woods with a dreamy Korean crooner? Travel agency KNT! has put together all its up-close-and-personal themed tour packages on one website: KNT! Entame.

Tours are divided into genres: Korean and Chinese pop culture; music; anime and games; and “others.” There are plenty of choices for the growing K-pop crowd. Trips to Seoul can include a “fan meeting” with boy band Big Bang, where participants can enjoy a private mini-concert, a chat with the guys in the band and a “high-five session” (less strenuous than a handshake, more intimate than a bow?). For more one-on-one time with a star, the “Summer Holidays with S.H.S” is a three-day getaway at a resort outside of Seoul with singer Shin Hye Sung.

The music-themed trips are pretty wide ranging, from a trip to Shizuoka for a show by Japanese band AAA to a flight to Los Angeles to see the Jonas Brothers. While AAA will pose for a picture and hang out a bit, fans of the Jonas brothers will have to settle for some concert swag.

That last “other” category includes more trips with event-themed giveaways and meet-and-greet components, like a bus tour to the WWE Summer Slam, which will include T-shirts that aren’t otherwise available in Japan and special to-be-announced events on the bus. Those who prefer to keep the words “surprise” and “pro-wrestling” as far separated as possible might prefer an overnight stay at an onsen in Kagoshima with former Takarazuka star Haruhi Ryouga. The actress, affectionately called Ahi-san, will take photos with tour participants, give autographs and stop by each group member’s room.

Then there’s the plan that’s getting all the English press: the Love Plus Plus tour, a romantic overnight stay in coastal Atami that seems like it was designed just to get people to say “Did you see what the Japanese are doing?” The bus trip for fans of the dating-simulation video game from Konami is pitched as “the first summer vacation with your girlfriend.” While it is possible to book the tour for two actual people, the “girlfriend” they’re referring to is the one in the game. Local shops and sites are participating, and the magic of augmented reality technology can put the digital girls into iPhone photos. The day when she can give you a high-five, though, is still to come.

Pulse Rate: ikyu.com

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Ikyu

While not exactly offering bargain basement prices, travel discounts can be found at Ikyu.com

In general there is a hesitancy in Japan to discount prices for goods and services. The price for a six pack of beer, for example, is same price as six individual beers. Landlords are wary to reduce rents even to fill up rooms that may be empty for a long period of time, and hotels rarely give price breaks – as reported by Yen For Living, even a drastic reduction in highway tolls did not increase overnight stays for travelers. The Internet, however, has at least helped consumers pinpoint the companies that have lowered their prices, which in turn has helped stimulate competition.

Recently the website 一休.COM (www.ikyu.com) made it to the No. 4 spot of  Goo keywords, perhaps because it was being inundated by visitors trying to take advantage of the site’s 10-year anniversary specials and other summer specials during the current summer vacation. While the site does provide discounted hotels, it’s not exactly targeted at budget travelers – some of the rooms go for as much as ¥33,000/night for two people. There is an English site to take advantage of (which even includes a frequently updated blog about Japan), but unfortunately it doesn’t appear to have the site’s full line of rooms, so using the Japanese side is recommended.

Budget travelers can look to Rakuten Travel for a larger selection of cheaper digs. Rakuten is also equipped with an English site, but if you can navigate the Japanese, you can take advantage of the full-featured search engine to narrow down housing by station, maximum price and distance from station. By searching strategically, you can find rooms at fantastic value. For example, a semi-double at City Hotel Hiroki at Kamata Station (a station that offers a decent amount of edible, drinkable and shop-able entertainment and isn’t far from central Tokyo on the Keihin-Tohoku Line) runs ¥5,400/night for two people this upcoming weekend. (If your name happens to be Hiroki, you can take advantage of the special discount rate of ¥5,000/night!)

Other websites are bringing down the price of goods. Kakaku.com has long offered significant discounts on a variety of different merchandise. For those looking to stay out of the sun while shopping for groceries, the bulk liquor store Kakuyasu has an impressive online presence that offers free delivery 365 days a year to Tokyo, Kanagawa and Osaka on any order, even if it’s as little as a single can of beer. Their prices are nothing to scoff at either – the Suntory Premium Malts costs a mere ¥220/can for a 24-pack, and Asahi Super Dry is ¥193/can. Although the bulk of the products are alcohol-related, there is a decent selection of snacks and basic foodstuffs. You can get your salsa and tortilla chip fix and, if you’ve got the moral and intestinal fortitude for it, try some whale curry.

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