While international associations tended to stage their events in major Japanese cities because of available facilities, convenience or simply destination reputation, the country’s regional cities are now working hard to convince planners to get off the association meeting’s equivalent of the Golden Route.
“It is unfortunate, but most people tend to go through Nagoya without stopping. But once they do stop here, they realise how much there is to see and do,” Mao Sasanabe, assistant manager of marketing for the Nagoya Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, told TTGmice yesterday on the sidelines of Meet Japan, a JNTO convention aimed at association chiefs.
As well as having advanced meeting facilities, the city has a castle, museums and numerous venues suitable for association events, while its history of innovative engineering – Toyota and Noritake ceramics are two local firms – makes it an attractive destination for organisations with overlapping interests.
The city hosted the RoboCup2017 tournament and is renowned for its robotics and artificial intelligence industries, which have attracted association groups in the past.
Cities that were previously considered too far off the beaten track are also reaching out to associations.
“Toyama City has excellent facilities for medium-sized conferences and our airport has direct flights to China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as good connections to Tokyo airports,” said Sachiko Nunome, MICE coordinator for PCO Co., which works closely with the city’s convention centre.
“We believe that because many people have already been to the big cities of Japan, they will be interested in seeing other parts of the country and exploring local culture, cuisine and the countryside,” she told TTGmice.
Another regional city looking to attract more association meetings is Matsumoto, which is home to a world renowned centre of medical science, thanks to Shinshu University and Kyoritsu Hospital.
“We attract a lot of medical and science-based events because the university and hospital have a global reputation, but associations also like to come because of Matsumoto’s natural environment and the opportunities for hiking and other sports,” remarked Katsuhiro Kosaka, deputy head of the city’s convention bureau.
“We believe that promoting our unique elements will appeal to more association groups.”