Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Sydney Office invited a mix of 5 product managers and travel advisors from Australia on a 6-night fully hosted tour of Japan from 16-22 June 2018. The purpose of the famil was to introduce local luxury travel professionals to the idyllic Shinshu region, an ideal luxury travel destination year-round, but particularly in the summertime due to its temperate climate and wealth of outdoor attractions, and the Hokuriku region, which is renowned for its art and traditional culture. The tour culminated in business meetings with local suppliers in the glistening metropolis of Tokyo.
The week-long trip was packed from beginning to end, starting with an inspection of a local winery and lunch in the quiet hillsides of Karuizawa, Nagano; continued on to Kanazawa, considered a “Little Kyoto” due to its history and rich culture; and ended back in Tokyo with inspections of local five-star hotels, with a heavy focus on artisans and local outdoor experiences throughout.
Highlights of the tour included experiencing the Gran Class on Japan’s Hokuriku shinkansen (bullet train), feasting on ice-cream covered in gold-leaf, wildlife tours to enjoy musasabi (Japanese flying squirrel) and local bird watching, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant and enjoying dinner in the company of an enchanting maiko (geisha).
Accommodation throughout the trip ranged from pure high-end western luxury to traditional Japanese onsen ryokan (traditional Japanese inn with hot springs). Upon arrival in Tokyo, participants spent their first night in Japan at Palace Hotel Tokyo, located adjacent to its namesake, the Imperial Palace. Their next destination was Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, the newest addition to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection in Japan. In Kanazawa, in addition to staying at the small boutique hotel Sainoniwa, inspections were held at Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel and ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa. For an onsen ryokan experience, participants stayed at Hoshinoya Kai Kaga. To finish off the trip with an air of complete luxury, their final home away from home for two nights was the Ritz Carlton Tokyo.
“I am confident that we shall grow visitor levels to Japan, thanks not only to my recent experience, but to the contacts I gained at the Luxury Travel event” said participant Melanie Wynne, Product Development Manager of Phil Hoffmann Travel.
In addition to facilitating the development of high-end products to Japan for Australian travellers, JNTO also aims to educate and inspire the Australian travel industry with the quality and variety of high calibre services and experiences on offer.