Humble fair aims to boost Japan’s tourism12 October, 2012 by Chad
While Tokyo Girls’ Style won over many fans last weekend, let’s not forget the reason for their appearance in Singapore in the first place. The 5 girl group were brought over to help promote Japanese pop culture for the Japan Travel Fair 2012, which was held in conjunction with Takashimaya Ngee Ann City’s 19th anniversary.
This is the second year that the Japan Travel Fair has been held. Introduced by JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) it was create to help recover the dwindling tourism after 2010’s disaster. This year, the fair opened up with the good news that the number of tourist visitors to Japan have pretty much returned to original numbers.
Sadly, apart from having brought over Tokyo Girls’ Style, the rest of the fair’s offerings were pretty meager. A handful of booths had been set up around the center and fountain in the shopping mall’s basement.
Looking around though, it was great to see direct representation from various city offices and attractions in the booths this day. Many had come down personally to help introduce Singaporeans to the places they were representing. There were also a few local travel agencies selling package tours for various locations around Japan, but with the ease of booking your holiday on your own terms online these days, such services are only useful for the the most busy (or lazy) of potential holiday goers.
As much as I love Japan, it’s easy to see why tourism to Japan may not be that popular a choice for many. While other countries like Taiwan and Korea have been successfully reaching out through attractive media portrayals of their countries’ sights, sounds and of course, food, Japan’s entire tourism strategy seems to revolve around making people feel bad for them.
Rather than selling the countless draw points of Japan, they are shooting themselves in the foot by constantly shedding negative light on themselves. I’m not dissing the weight of events or the importance of continuing support and education about the situation. I run the risk of sounding insensitive, but for the sake of promoting tourism, this and that should be two largely different matters.
Sadly, like many other foreign things you can tell how clueless they are when the majority of their efforts (and tax payers dollars) before this were used to sell Japan through anime, manga and “otaku culture”, things socially frowned upon by their own people, while neglecting a treasure trove of other attractions. Ask any normal non-Japanophile person about Japan now, and you’ll realize how little the rest of the public knows of the country as a result.
While it is unlikely that the Japan Travel Fair would pique new interest in its current state, those who already had the intention of visiting Japan (such as ourselves) did find some useful information, thanks to the friendly representatives and the many brochures that they brought along with them.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.