DUBAI: Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has officially opened their office in Dubai, which will focus on relaxation, nature and safety as key reasons for travelers from the Middle East to visit the country.
Speaking exclusively to Arab News Japan, JNTO’s President SEINO Satoshi said it made the most sense to open the first office in the region in Dubai.
“We wanted to promote tourism from Arab countries, and we found that Dubai is an international cultural and business hub,” Seino said. “We started the process of opening the office in 2019 and the preparation was led by Executive Director KIKUCHI Tomoko.”
JNTO’s president said that they wanted to promote Japan as more than Kyoto and Tokyo, they want to shed more light on the lesser-known parts of Japan.
“For example, we want to talk about adventures involving activities, in nature, these are the things we want to promote. In the Hokkaido area we have the nature, which is perfect for walking and trekking,” he explained.
According to Seino, after JNTO’s research, they found that people in the Middle East had less information about Japan and see it as a far away country. As JNTO, it is their immediate goal to give as much information so that they feel more encouraged to travel there.
Between 2014 and 2019, the number of visitors to Japan from the GCC doubled, reaching about 30,000 in 2019. In 2019, Japan welcomed a record 32 million visitors from the world, and by 2030, the country aims to attract 60 million visitors with a JPY 15 trillion consumption annually. The Middle East is a priority market for the organization and a key focus in achieving this goal, with the opening of the JNTO Dubai office playing a major part in the efforts to attract more visitors from the region.
JNTO Dubai also has plans for the future to organize seminars and presentations that may provide more information about Japan to those interested.
“We also want to strengthen our relationships with other people here through social media accounts,” he added.
In 2022, the UAE and Japan will celebrate their 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Seino said it was an honor to be able to launch JNTO Dubai just in time for the celebrations.
“It is such a great opportunity for us to be in the Middle East at this time and it is an honor,” he told Arab News Japan.
As for now, JNTO Dubai plans to target other countries in the region, but have no plans to expand into other parts of the Middle East.
At the opening ceremony of the Dubai office, some attendees included Japan’s Consul General SEKIGUCHI Noboru, Japan’s Ambassador to the UAE NAKAJIMA Akihiko, Japan’s Vice Minister of Land, infrastructure, Transport and Tourism OKANISHI Yasuhiro and Faisal Al Hammadi, Assistant Undersecretary for Entrepreneurship Development and SME, Ministry of Economy.
In response to the need to build more awareness of Japan and its offerings, JNTO will mainly be focusing on three key areas of interest for visitors to the country – safety, relaxation through world-class hospitality and gourmet experiences, and the natural beauty during the four seasons.
“Japan is blessed with four distinct seasons, each of which brings its own delights in terms of gastronomy, nature and traditions. The seasons are at the heart of Japanese culture, and we want to highlight the different attractions for visitors through different times of the year, also emphasizing the fact that Japan is one of the world’s safest destinations. One visit to Japan is never enough to experience all we have to offer,” Executive Director Kikuchi said.
Also focusing on Japan’s four seasons is the upcoming promotional activity of JNTO as a part of Japan National Day event at Expo 2020 Dubai, taking place on Dec. 11. The event will focus on the four seasons through a series of performances including dance, music, gymnastics and acrobatics, combining Japanese traditions with modern cultural elements.
The event is being organized by JNTO and will take place at the Al Forsan Park Amphitheatre, starting at 14:30 and again at 16:00.