New DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Opens in Japan

Doubletree by Hilton Hotels, a brand from the US-based hospitality company, Hilton Worldwide, has opened its first branded hotel in Japan.

The new DoubleTree by Hilton Naha, in Okinawa, Japan, is the tenth Hilton Worldwide hotel in Japan. The 227-room hotel is minutes away from Naha Airport by monorail, and 500 metres from the local ferry terminal.

Rob Palleschi, the company global head, said, ‘DoubleTree by Hilton is delighted to continue the expansion of our Asia Pacific presence by introducing another rewarding hotel experience with the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. This new addition is our first in Japan and an extraordinary milestone for our brand’s global growth. It continues our growth strategy to provide outstanding hotel offerings in gateway countries and cities around the world.’

The 12-story DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha provides a 40 square-metre conference room, a salon, a laundry, The Riverside Restaurant and Cafe, and car parking services. The hotel is offering an introductory 15 percent discount on lunch buffets at The Riverside Restaurant and Cafe from May 24 to June 30, 2012.

Martin Rinck, the company president of the Asia Pacific region for Hilton Worldwide, said, ‘We are thrilled at the opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. With close to 50 years of proud history in Japan, this latest opening is our tenth and further reinforces Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to growth in this wonderful country with our diverse and outstanding portfolio of hospitality brands that includes DoubleTree by Hilton. The DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha will contribute to making Okinawa a great place to visit for business and pleasure.’

 

Japan will fully recover in 2012 following last years devastating tsunami

Japan’s travel and tourism industry is forecast to stage a complete recovery following last year’s earthquake and tsunami during the first half of 2012.

A new report by the World Travel&Tourism Council (WTTC), its fourth and final report since the earthquake of March 11, 2011, forecasts the full recovery of international tourism demand during the first half of 2012, having initially fallen 62 percent in April 2011.

According to WTTC, Japan’s travel and tourism industry is set to directly contribute JPY10,276 billion (US$129 billion) in 2012, marginally above the JPY10,246 billion (US$128.5 billion) in 2010. This followed a fall of 3.9 percent in 2011 due to the earthquake and tsunami.

David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC said: “Japan is the third largest travel and tourism economy in the world, so its health is of crucial importance to our industry across the globe. Japan’s travel and tourism recovery has been much better than anyone could have anticipated 12 months ago. With help of a forceful marketing strategy, Japan is open and ready for business. Domestic travel recovered strongly last year, and 2012 is forecast to be the year for full recovery of international visitors.

“It is particularly fitting that WTTC is holding its Global Summit in Sendai and Tokyo from April 16-19. We are delighted to be taking the leaders of our industry to Japan at such an important time for the country.”

Japan has come up with a new plan to encourage tourism – free flights

In wake of the destructive earthquake and tsunami in March, Japan has seen a major decrease in tourists and is now considering complimentary flights.

 

Usually a hot spot for any visitor to the Far East, the country is hoping to kick-start interest by giving away 10,000 free flights to foreign visitors.

 

The plan is still at the proposal stage, and is subject to government budget approval – but could start by April next year.

Potential visitors will be asked to submit an online application for a free flight, specifying which area of the country they would like to visit.

Successful applicants will then be asked to write a review of their trip, which will be published on the internet.

 

The hospitality will only cover flights though, once tourists arrive they will have to cover all costs, including accommodation.

 

Japan hopes that this will create positive feedback and promote Japanese holidays.

 

Kylie Clark, of the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) said:

 

‘When people visit Japan they fall in love with it.

 

‘So rather than spend millions on a big advertising campaign, we hope to be able to give away free flights so people can go and experience Japan for themselves and then tell their family, friends and colleagues what a fantastic destination it is for a holiday.’

 

The power of films – Tokyo’s international film festival

Agoda.com, Asia’s global hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group, today announced hotel specials for the Tokyo International Film Festival.

 

Taking place from October 22 to 30, TIFF is held annually in several venues across Tokyo, most events staged within Roppongi Hills in the Minato area. Roppongi Hills is a multi-function urban development comprising boutiques, cinemas, restaurants, art spaces and sculptured gardens, providing a cosmopolitan backdrop to this glamorous international event.

 

This year, two opening films kick off the event: Hollywood action ‘The Three Musketeers’, and Jackie Chan’s ‘1911’. The latter is Chan’s 100th film and is both directed by and starring the Hong Kong superstar. Other highlights include a retrospective of iconic Japanese actress Kyoko Kagawa, a presentation of Yasujiro Ozo’s 1953 masterpiece ‘Tokyo Story’, and a screening of ‘Moneyball’ with Brad Pitt, which will officially close the festival. Aside from movie screenings, TIFF includes special appearances by actors and industry-related seminars and symposiums.

 

The theme of this year’s TIFF is “Believe! The Power of Films”, which promotes Japan’s recovery from the tsunami by uniting people through a love of film. TIFF’s main fund-raising project is the ‘ARIGATO’ wristband campaign, with all donations send to the Japan Red Cross. The project recently raised funds and awareness at Cannes Film Festival, where film people from around the world showed their support through donations and well wishes.

 

As a travel destination, Tokyo is as vibrant in real life as it is onscreen. The nightlife of Shibuya, the shopping of Ginza and the costumed kids of Harajuku are even more exciting in person than they are in pictures, and travelers are assured an unforgettable experience in Tokyo at any time of year.

 

agoda.com has secured a selection of special rates just for the Tokyo Film Festival. Rates are for a limited time only, so book early!

 

Agoda.com hot hotel deals for the Tokyo Film Festival

 

Hotel New Otani Tokyo 5*

Save 40%. Rates from USD 251 per night for The Main Standard Room. Valid until October 30, 2011.

 

the b roppongi 3*

Save 20%. Rates from 163 per night. Minimum stay 2 nights. Valid until October 31, 2011.

 

Akasaka Yoko Hotel 2.5*

Save 30%. Rates from USD 91 per night. Valid until October 31, 2011.

 

the b akasaka 3*

Save 15%. Rates from USD 163 per night. Must book at least 14 days in advance. Valid until March 31, 2012.

 

Tokyo Prince Hotel 3*

Save 50%. Rates from USD 118 per night. Minimum stay 2 nights, check in Sun or Mon.

 

Hotel Monterey Akasaka 3*

Save 20%. Rates from USD 166 per night. Valid until October 30, 2011.

 

APA Hotel Nishiazabu 2.5*

Save 20%. Rates from USD 120 per night. Valid until March 13, 2012.

 

Asia Center of Japan 3*

Save 10%. Rates from USD 124 per night. Minimum stay 2 nights. Must book at least 7 days in advance. Valid until November 23, 2011.

 

Shimbashi Atagoyama Tokyu Inn 3*

Save 30%. Rates from USD 138 per night. Minimum stay 2 nights. Valid until December 30, 2011.

 

Shiba Park Hotel 3*

Save 20%. Rates from USD 222 per night. Minimum stay 2 nights. Valid until December 31, 2011.

Tokyo travel advice downgraded

The warning of only travelling to Tokyo for essential travel has been downgraded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

After weeks of uncertainty following the earthquake and devastating tsunami that left the Fukushima nuclear plant worryingly close to a nuclear disaster, Japan is now welcoming tourists back.

Last year 8.6million tourists came to Japan, and considering the huge price tag for the series of disasters is thought to be at £122billion, the decision to downgrade is certainly a welcome one. Especially as Spring is a very popular time for tourists wanting to see the beautiful cherry blossom season.

Since the earthquake on March 11th, which subsequently damaged the nuclear reactors and radition appeared to by leaking, the FCO had warned against travel to Tokyo.

Although Tokyo is 130 miles south of Fukushima, it was feared radiation would reach the city.

Due to the destruction to the infrastructure to the north-east of the capital, the FCO is still advising against travel to this area, but Tokyo is now considered safe as long as no further disasters occur at the Fukushima plant.

A statement on the FCO website says: ‘Although the situation at Fukushima will remain of concern for some time, the risks are gradually declining as the reactors cool and as facilities to stabilise them are established.’

However, Britons have been advised to follow ‘precautionary measures’ if radiation levels do increase.

Travel organisations confirm Japan is safe

Travelers to Japan have been reassured after two major air travel organizations quelled fears over health and transportation worries.

The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association has received confirmation from six United Nations agencies monitoring the impact of Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that there are no threats to human health or any major disruption to air travel to or within the country.

The UN statement, released on April 2, also ruled out the need for passengers arriving from Japan to undergo screening for radiation at air or seaports around the world.

The joint statement was issued by the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Tourism Organization.

Continuous monitoring around Japan’s airports confirms that radiation levels are well within safe limits from a health perspective, according to the organizations’ studies.

Travelers visiting Japan by air have been advised to consult a dedicated website established by the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau: http://www.mlit.go.jp/koku/flyjapan_en/ for further updates.

Giovanni Bisingani, director general and CEO of IATA said that safety was always the top priority.

“The transparent and continuous monitoring of the situation has allowed Japanese and international authorities to confirm that Japan’s airports remain open and safe for travelers and transport workers,” he said.

“It is important that governments and industry respond to the challenges of this crisis with best practices supported by expert advice.

“We are reassured that the UN is not recommending screening measures for passengers coming from Japan”.

That assessment was supported by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which also concurred there is no threat to travelers from nuclear radiation from the Fukushima plant, 220 km north of Tokyo.

The organization, based in Montreal, said: “Radioactive material from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant is gradually spreading outside Japan into the global atmosphere but at extremely low concentrations that do not present health or transportation safety hazards.”

It also confirmed that all airports in Japan except Sendai, which was badly damaged when the March 11 tsunami swept out of the Pacific Ocean, are operating normally for both domestic and international flights.

Freya Leng

 

The Foreign Office continues to advise against non-essential travel to Tokyo

The Foreign Office advice still remains the same on travel to Tokyo and northeast Japan. It has been revealed that more than 500 Britons in this area have been given iodine tablets to counteract the effects of radiation leaking from the country’s crippled nuclear facility.

The Foreign Office has issued the following advice:

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Tokyo and north east Japan given the damage caused by the 11 March earthquake, the resulting aftershocks and the tsunami.
  • Due to the evolving situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility and potential disruptions to the supply of goods, transport, communications, power and other infrastructure, British nationals currently in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo should consider leaving the area.
  • At present this advice does not apply to Hokkaido due to its significant distance north of Fukushima.  We will continue to monitor the situation.
  • Those who choose not to leave Tokyo and the area north of Tokyo should consult the section below.  This sets out precautionary advice on measures to be taken, should radiation levels increase in any significant way.  These include taking shelter, assessment of water and food, and taking iodine tablets.  It also includes details of distribution points for iodine tablets to British nationals and their dependents in Tokyo from 19-22 March.

Australia and Japan Pacific’s Most Desirable Vacation Destinations

Australia and Japan claimed a shared first place in Visa’s international travel survey. The countries were consistently ranked as top Asia-Pacific travel destinations, with one-fifth of respondents keen to holiday in either country. The survey polled frequent travellers from the United States and other international destinations, featuring people aged over 18 years who had booked a trip recently.

Residents of Thailand, Hong Kong, and Mainland China favoured Japan for international travel, claiming that its combination of high-tech cities and natural beauty makes it one of Asia’s leading holiday destinations. Australia ranked highly for similar reasons, albeit with a different audience – residents of the United States, New Zealand, and Britain voted for the country in record numbers.

Climbing into third place, China has gained favour from travellers throughout the Pacific. With low accommodation costs and some of the world’s largest cities along its Eastern coastline, the country’s economic growth has contributed to a boom in international tourism. Visitors from within Asia still make up most of China’s international visitor count, although it is gaining momentum in the West.

Travel habits are of great importance to companies within the Pacific region, as the growing income levels in many countries in the region have lead to an increase in international travel. Key sectors of growth include Thailand and Malaysia, where residents can now afford to travel internationally due to the prevalence of low-cost air carriers and online hotel booking services in the region.

These services can make previously unaffordable destinations such as Japan or Australia within the financial reach of families in the region’s many high-growth developing countries. With marketing budgets tight and occupancy rates relatively low, such information on travel intentions is becoming more valuable to marketers and service-driven travel firms in the region.

More Than Just Strange Costumes: Exploring Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park

Snuggled into Japan’s fashion capital in Harajuku is Yoyogi Park – a large relaxation area offering all a tired traveller could need. Known internationally for the bizarre costumes on display and the public martial arts classes, the park is thought of as Tokyo’s natural fashion runway. Every Sunday, without fail, the park is filled to the brim with cosplayers and wannabe fashion models.

It’s an occurrence that, outside of Japan, would inspire bizarre stares and a bevy of cameras. But in this strange pocket of cosmopolitan Tokyo, walking through the park in a gothic costume is normal to the point of being bland. Yoyogi Park is truly an sight to behold, with a sea of creative costumes on display for the entire city – boasting a popular of over thirty million – to see.

But there’s more to the Yoyogi area than just unusual costumes. The district is part of Japan’s large fashion industry, housing cutting-edge brands and the country’s more classic houses such as Issey Miyake. While Akihabara represents the centre of Tokyo’s gigantic technology markets and vibrant computer culture, Yoyogi is the nation’s capital of fashion and bizarre visual innovation.

It’s also the home of Japan’s first flight, performed in 1910 by the country’s early military. Now it’s a reminder of Japan’s difficult economic past – throughout the edges of the park, a series of camps are erected, offering residence to Tokyo’s large and almost completely accepted homeless population. In a city renowned for its wealth and productivity, Yoyogi is a reminder that things can sometimes fail.

If the city has become too much for you, think of Yoyogi Park as an alternative to a lengthy trip to the outskirts of Tokyo. It’s central, yet remarkably fresh and tolerable. Given the bizarre costumes on display throughout the weekend, this is one destination you can’t afford not to see while in the world’s most exciting and interesting capital city.