There are multiple ways in which Japan can inspire you for an event. If we add the country's capacity to generate value in research, technology and business, we quickly realize the benefits provided to business events… and the constraints caused by this COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan’s unique culture aroused an internationally recognized hospitality and a spectacular fusion of tradition and modernity, which gives this archipelago a great deal of experience in hosting international conferences and professional meetings.
From an early stage, Japanese National Tourism Organization (JNTO) shared with travellers the most recent news about entry conditions, cancellations of events and closure of venues. As the spread continued in some areas of the country, the government took unprecedented actions, such as the closing of schools, entry bans, and, finally, the declaration of a state of emergency. “As we are close to China, we faced the risks of the epidemic some time before Europe. Sanitary safety controls were strengthened, as well as hygiene measures. A cluster-based approach helped to contain the spread of the virus.” told us Aurélien Bandini, European MICE Manager from JNTO.
To prevent the creation of new risk groups, people were also asked to avoid what they called the three “Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact points. Through these measures, local authorities called on citizens to reduce travel to the strict minimum and some businesses to close. Entry bans, caused a historical plunge by 99.9% of monthly foreign visitors in April and March.
Logically, no one expected this avalanche as evidenced by the marketing campaign, «Your Japan, Your 2020, Your Events». “The recent events made it clear that we need to find the best way to readapt our strategy. Our current approach is to push for postponing rather than cancelling events and to stay in contact with our association partners. At this uncertain stage, we cannot set a clear goal, but mitigation of the damage is our top priority”, Aurélien acknowledged.
The campaign will be upheld until the end of the year and they are also considering continuing it in 2021. Furthermore, many festivals and major events were called off or postponed in Japan with special emphasis for this year’s Summer Olympics. According to a recent JNTO survey, 71.4% of Conference Ambassadors said they had been impacted by the COVID-19. Among them, 62.5% said the conference was postponed, and 35% were cancelled.
“There is a stronger emphasis on going digital and increasing skills while Japan’s MICE industry goes through this crisis,” he added. “Regarding the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, economic studies estimate that it will cost Japan about 6 billion USD, along with other events that need to be rescheduled as a result.”
But why choose Japan during the recovery while flattening the curve?
“JNTO are maintaining the support policies established at national level, working closely with all the main players of the Japanese MICE industry to set up guidelines that will make events as safe as possible from sanitary risks”, Aurélien concluded. Briefly, they are confident that Japan will remain a top destination in Asia Pacific.
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