Japan looks to win back skiers

Japan looks to win back skiers
By admin

Japan’s troubled Tohoku region will next month step up efforts to win back Australian skiers in the wake of last year’s tragic events.

While the 2010/11 ski season saw a record number of Australia’s visit Tohoku’s slopes, up 451% on the previous year, the earthquake and resulting tsunami is thought to have decimated this winter’s numbers.
Figures are yet to be confirmed, but Yamagata prefecture tourism chief Yasuhiro Nagasawa reported almost complete abandonment of the region’s ski resorts by Australians.
Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation director Takeshi Suma will visit Australia next month to promote ski resorts such as Yamagata’s Zao, which he believes offers conditions equal to the more popular Niseko and Nagano resorts further south.
Tourism officials said the Visit Japan campaign, rolled out extensively in Australia 2010, was behind the record year in 2011. 
Inevitably, the vast majority of the 8,120 travellers arrived prior to disasters after which arrivals came to a juddering halt.
“The number of Australian visitors coming to the region to ski had steadily been climbing each year, and we saw huge increases during the early 2011 ski season,” said Shintaro Takazawa, director of the Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation.
The Fukushima prefecture, site of the nuclear reactor rendered unstable by the quake, experienced a 92% increase from a small base to 500 Australian visitors.
Of Tohoku’s six prefectures, only the Miyagi prefecture with fewer ski resorts, experienced a decline. Australian arrivals to the area fell 8% to 540.
Arrivals from Japan’s other key markets plummeted as travellers abandoned trips to the destination in their peak travel times of spring, summer and autumn.
Arrivals from the US fell 61% to 27,360, while China slumped 50% to 28,370.
Overall arrivals fell 59% to 245,050.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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