JAPANESE CVBs are dangling freebies to increase the appeal of their cities as attractive incentive destinations and counter the image of Japan as an expensive travel option.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily during the Japan Incentive Travel Seminar in Singapore last Thursday, Momoko Maeda, incentive coordinator from Sapporo Convention Bureau, said: “In order to bring more guests into our city, we must be able to attract them first with a value proposition and position ourselves at the top of their minds.”
According to Maeda, incentive groups will be able to enjoy a list of benefits if they spend more than 200 nights in the city, e.g. 50 pax for four nights.
The bureau will sponsor the group’s gala dinner and throw in a performance, or arrange a special welcome ceremony by a “kimono lady” for the group.
Said Maeda: “Our unique cultural dance items will be popular for the guests because it is something only we have that will leave them with a memorable experience.”
Likewise, the Okinawa Convention Visitors Bureau’s (OCVB) Welcome Project created for incentive tours, which are valid until March 30, 2015, includes an airport greeting fronted by Miss Okinawa.
Shuhei Kohagura, OCVB’s MICE marketing specialist, added: “As attractions at receptions, we can provide displays of Okinawan performing arts including Ryukyu, Eisa, and lion dances (as part of the Welcome Project).”
Tourism arrival figures from Singapore to Japan between January and June are at 97,900, up from 83,304 over the same period last year, said Susan Maria Ong, deputy director of Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Singapore office.
Maggie Tay, director, Singapore-based Euro-Asia Holidays, said while Singapore travellers are always interested in Japan, budget is still an issue. “Travelling to Japan is already more expensive than other destinations in the region, and the expenses there are also quite high.
“However for the groups who want to really reward their staff, they will be willing to spend a bit, so these are the ones that will still go to Japan,” she said.
Similarly, Jenny Ho, managing director, Classic Travel, who usually arranges for incentive tours in Tokyo and Osaka, said: “It is useful that the other CVBs are coming up with attractive offers so we can explore these cities instead of the typical major ones.”
JNTO also brought its incentives showcase to Kuala Lumpur on Friday, the second and final leg of the travel seminar.
Japan baits incentives with free add-ons