JNTO seeks to promote Japan to Saudi tourists

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Autumn in Japan. (Supplied)
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Onsen in Japan. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 January 2020

JNTO seeks to promote Japan to Saudi tourists

  • Last year JNTO identified the Middle East market as an important emerging market

RIYADH: The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is involved in a broad range of activities, both domestically and worldwide, to encourage international tourists from all over the world to visit Japan.

In 2013 the number of international visitors to Japan reached 10.3 million. Within five years this number tripled, meaning that in 2018 Japan welcomed more than 31 million visitors. It amounted to a robust 8.7 percent increase year-on-year.

Last year JNTO identified the Middle East market as an important emerging market for travelers seeking unique luxury experiences.

It participated at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai in April 2019, conducting numerous tourism seminars for the region’s travel trade professionals.

The JNTO further strengthened its presence within the region by appointing AVIAREPS as its representative office, which regularly collaborates with regional airline partners to conduct joint consumer promotions, advertising campaigns and on-going marketing activities to generate greater awareness of Japan’s attractions.

Bilateral relationships in terms of tourism between Saudi Arabia and Japan have recently increased dramatically.

Thousands of Al-Hilal football supporters recently visited Japan for the AFC Champions League Final last November. The newly introduced Saudi tourist e-visa system is expected to result in greater numbers of Japanese visitors to Saudi Arabia.

Japan is an archipelago stretching from the north to the south for more than 3,000 km. Each prefecture and region is home to its own unique offerings ready to be discovered, including local culinary delicacies, crafts and festivals to name a few.

As such, the JNTO warmly encourages all visitors from the Middle East seeking a total Japan experience not to limit their visits to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but to use the opportunity to also venture out to places like Hokkaido, Tohoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.

Japan has so much to reveal to international guests throughout the year — in fact, each place should be visited at least four times. This is because each season provides its own unique charms and experiences due to the changing landscapes, events, cuisine and seasonal influences.

Japan’s offering as a travel destination is truly diverse and world class, with 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites providing exceptional traditional and culture-based experiences alongside modern pop-culture experiences such as manga and anime.

Japan was ranked fourth in the world in 2019 by the World Economic Forum for its travel and tourism competitiveness, ensuring that anyone looking for authentic travel experiences will not be disappointed.

Japanese cuisine, shopping, hot springs, sightseeing and theme parks are the principal attractions for leisure visitors. Accommodation options across its eight regions and 47 prefectures are broad, ranging from major five-star brands to “ryokans” (traditional Japanese-style inns).

In the Middle East the tourist office’s focus will be reaching out to and exciting leisure travelers to visit Japan, specifically families, young adults, those seeking wellness, luxury, authentic cultural and gourmet culinary experiences.

The official JNTO Arabic language website is due to be renewed and expanded this year, to ensure a plethora of relevant up-to-date information is made available to all, which will hopefully help each person to discover their own special Japan.

The JNTO is committed to furthering its activities and promotions in the Middle East so that an increasing number of people in the region can easily find out more about the unknown touristic treasures of Japan.

  • Daisuke Kobayashi is a senior official of the Japan National Tourism Organization in the Middle East

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

Updated 12 August 2020

S&P 500 inches closer to record high

  • US stock market index returns to levels last seen before the onset of coronavirus crisis

NEW YORK: The S&P 500 on Tuesday closed in on its February record high, returning to levels last seen before the onset of the coronavirus crisis that caused one of Wall Street’s most dramatic crashes in history.

The benchmark index was about half a percent below its peak hit on Feb. 19, when investors started dumping shares in anticipation of what proved to be the biggest slump in the US economy since the Great Depression.

Ultra-low interest rates, trillions of dollars in stimulus and, more recently, a better-than-feared second quarter earnings season have allowed all three of Wall Street’s main indexes to recover.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has led the charge, boosted by “stay-at-home winners” Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. The index was down about 0.4 percent.

The blue chip Dow surged 1.2 percent, coming within 5 percent of its February peak.

“You’ve got to admit that this is a market that wants to go up, despite tensions between US-China, despite news of the coronavirus not being particularly encouraging,” said Andrea Cicione, a strategist at TS Lombard.

“We’re facing an emergency from the health, economy and employment point of view — the outlook is a lot less rosy. There’s a disconnect between valuation and the actual outlook even though lower rates to some degree justify high valuation.”

Aiding sentiment, President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine. But the approval’s speed has concerned some experts as the vaccine still must complete final trials.

Investors are now hoping Republicans and Democrats will resolve their differences and agree on another relief program to support about 30 million unemployed Americans, as the battle with the virus outbreak was far from over with US cases surpassing 5 million last week.

Also in focus are Sino-US tensions ahead of high-stakes trade talks in the coming weekend.

“Certainly the rhetoric from Washington has been negative with regards to China ... there’s plenty of things to worry about, but markets are really focused more on the very easy fiscal and monetary policies at this point,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Financials, energy and industrial sectors, that have lagged the benchmark index this year, provided the biggest boost to the S&P 500 on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 was set to rise for the eighth straight session, its longest streak of gains since April 2019.

The S&P 500 was up 15.39 points, or 0.46 percent, at 3,375.86, about 18 points shy of its high of 3,393.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 341.41 points, or 1.23 percent, at 28,132.85, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 48.37 points, or 0.44 percent, at 10,919.99.

Royal Caribbean Group jumped 4.6 percent after it hinted at new safety measures aimed at getting sailing going again after months of cancellations. Peers Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Carnival Corp. also rose.

US mall owner Simon Property Group Inc. gained 4.1 percent despite posting a disappointing second quarter profit, as its CEO expressed some hope over a recovery in retail as lockdown measures in some regions eased.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 3.44-to-1 on the NYSE and 1.44-to-1 on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 50 new highs and four new lows.