Later this month, celebrations will begin across Japan to signify the beginning of the 2019 Rugby World Cup – a first for both Japan and Asia. Fast-forward another 10 months to July 2020 and Japan will host an even larger international sporting event, the summer Olympics.
The Rugby World Cup is set to be the most widely viewed and digitally engaged rugby event of all time. So with all eyes firmly fixed on Japan, it’s no wonder that Tokyo is stepping up to maximise the enormous impact this “unrepeatable opportunity” will have on its inbound travel market, says Masashi Imai, tourist promotion department manager for the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCVB)
In light of this increased exposure, Tokyo is making moves to position itself as a must-see destination for the high‑end luxury traveller. Imai explains that the TCVB is “working hard to build on Japan’s international offering and showcase the luxury travel facilities as much as possible” to cement its reputation within the industry.
Several initiatives have been approved by the city’s tourism board. A new website, Timelesstokyo.com, features sample itineraries, recommended hotels (including the Aman and the Four Seasons) and local contacts for a variety of experiences tailored to the high-end market.
“We felt that many luxury travellers are looking for a genuine experience, something authentic that money can’t buy,” explains Yuya Monden, senior assistant manager at TCVB. Whether that is a formal tea ceremony at Sado Kaikan in traditional dress, bathing in a Japanese onsen or eating fresh sushi for breakfast in Tsukiji, the interest in experiencing Japan’s culture is key for luxury visitors.
One particular experience that many tourists are keen to enjoy is the Sakura season. Taking place in April, visitors flock from far and wide to see the cherry trees bloom across Japan. The Sakura is so spectacular that the TCVB notes approximately 2.9 million international visitors come to Japan in April, roughly 10%-15% higher than any other month. But if spring travel is not possible, the TCVB recommends visiting in late October to early December, a great time to enjoy the autumn foliage.
The luxury market is still very new for Tokyo. It is for this reason that the TCVB has decided to partner with Connections to host a first-of-its-kind event: to showcase the best Japanese product to international luxury buyers over three days of networking in the city. :
“We have noticed that there is such a strong demand by clients, but not many buyers have visited Tokyo yet.” Yuya explains. “We hope that the Connections event in February 2020 [right between the two major sporting events] will educate the buyers and give them first-hand experiences in our city, while also allowing them to connect with our suppliers to nurture Japan as a luxury destination.”