The opening of Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium in Iwate Prefecture on August 19 was seen as a beacon of hope for the tourism recovery of the Japanese port town which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.
The stadium – the only newly-built facility of the 12 to be used for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 – will offer corporate hospitality packages and host business guests during the event, and its construction has shown the Japanese people how a sporting event could help to drive business events and tourism revenue.
Since Kamaishi was named a RWC host in 2015, its motto has been “rebuilding through rugby”, and its population of 36,000 is preparing alongside officials to welcome sports fans, tourists and business guests.
The port town is famous for rugby, steel and fishing. Some 30 per cent of homes and 60 per cent of businesses were damaged or destroyed during the 2011 natural disasters.
“We are excited to be part of the rejuvenation of Kamaishi and the Tohoku region,” said Tomo Shimada, head of marketing at STH Japan – a provider of sports hospitality and premium spectator experiences.
Though limited accommodation and public transport means the RWC corporate hospitality provider will not offer its full range of packages, it is expecting good uptake of its newly launched corporate Premium Seats. These will include the best Category A seats, premium food and drink, official merchandise, and a souvenir gift.
Moreover, about 10,000 seats will be added to the 6,000 pax capacity stadium ahead of the first RWC game in September 2019.
According to Shimada, the concept of sports hospitality was unknown to most Japanese people STH Japan surveyed as part of its market research in 2017. But awareness is growing due to industry efforts.
As of August this year, 21 companies have been assigned as official travel agents for the RWC. Their offerings include corporate packages to Kamaishi with Premium Seats, teambuilding or incentive trips in the local area and accommodation in neighbouring areas.