Suruga Market!ng & Tour!sm is now presenting the Japanese destination as one where corporate groups can come through on day trips to experience the quiet local life and learn all about tea culture through workshops and farm visits.
Taichiro Ishida, marketing manager, Suruga Market!ng & Tour!sm Bureau, told TTGmice on the sidelines of the M&I in Suruga Seminar: “We understand that Suruga is not a final destination in Japan, nor is it a big overnight destination. That is why we are positioning ourselves as a stopover between two big cities – Tokyo and Osaka – and opting to show visitors our culture and activities related to tea, such as tea pairings, farm tours, and green tea calligraphy.”
He opined that Suruga would appeal to Singapore event groups, as travellers were already “familiar with Japanese culture, and are ready to explore lesser-known destinations outside the main cities”. Other nationalities, Ishida noted, still opt for well-known parts of the country, like Mount Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka.
“Since we started promoting to the Singapore market in 2017, MICE visitors from Singapore have increased about 20 per cent,” he said.
In South-east Asia, Suruga is also targeting corporates based in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, and will be making sales calls to these countries before the year is up. Ishida noted that corporate event arrivals from these markets “have been steadily increasing”.
Located an hour from Tokyo via the Shinkansen, Suruga would be apt for an incentive group size of between 20 to 40 pax. Although hosting a group of 100 guests is possible, Ishida said the group would have to be split up for overnight stays, as there is no hotel large enough to accommodate everyone together.
However, Ishida said Suruga would work fine for corporate groups now, as group sizes have shrunk post-lockdown.
He added that now is the best time to take events to Japan, as the yen is weak.
Ishida added: “Aside from incentives, we’re also looking at attracting medium-sized conventions. Although we have a 4,000-seater venue, we do not have enough accommodation to cater to large-scale conferences. This is why we are, instead, looking at conferences at around 400 people, where not everyone will stay overnight in Suruga.”