New Direct Flight from Helsinki Brings Europe Closer to Japan

13th Nov, 2019

Japan already has a state-of-the-art transportation system with its world famous high-speed “shinkansen” trains operating between all major cities, and over 20 international airports around the country. According to OAG, an aviation data provider, in its 2019 report, Japan delivered impressive annual OTP (On-Time Performance) results as 22 Japanese airports achieved 5-star ratings, including Osaka International Itami (88.3 per cent) and Tokyo International Haneda (86.4 per cent), reassuring news for time-starved business travellers and business events groups. OTP Star Ratings accredits the top airlines and airports worldwide for superior punctuality performance.

The country's two leading airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), both serve a broad range of international destinations. As the country prepares to host several major events in the upcoming years, new transportation improvements are already rolled out. Major hub airports and regional airports have already launched new international flights. The number of direct flights run by Chinese carriers will increase, connecting Japan with major Chinese cities in various regions. A new direct route between Europe and Japan has opened, thanks to Finnair’s Helsinki to Sapporo flight. With this route, business events groups have the option to head directly to Hokkaido from Europe. Hokkaido is famed for its winter sports, including skiing, fresh seafood, and wild nature. Long recognised in Asia as a ‘bucket list’ incentive location, Hokkaido and Sapporo are now even closer to Europe. The flight into the New Chitose International Airport means convention delegates or incentive groups from Europe can conveniently fly directly into Sapporo from Helsinki without the need to stop in Tokyo or Osaka. The new route will be a short flight time (approximately 8-9 hours); the quickest way from Europe to Sapporo. Helsinki is a well-established hub in Europe with quick turnaround times meaning that business events participants can connect from any major city in Europe.

As one of the hosts of World Cup Rugby 2019, Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido and Japan's fifth largest city, is no stranger to hosting international sporting events. The Olympic Winter Games was held here in 1972, and Sapporo Dome, where some Rugby World Cup 2019 matches were played, was also a venue in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. But it is not all play - earlier this year, the Sapporo Convention Centre played host to the 18th Congress of the Asia Pacific Confederation of Chemical Engineers, one of the some 14 international conventions that took place in the city according to ICCA Data (the association meetings database of the International Congress and Convention Association). As of 1st November 2019, ICCA Data records indicate that Sapporo has booked some 16 international association conferences for the future including the 10th International Conference on Bridge Maintenance, Safety and Management 2020, the 6th Asia Pacific Protein Association Conference 2020, and the General Assembly of the International Union of Radio Science 2023 which will bring about 1,260 delegates.

ICCA Data as of 1st November 2019 - the statistics will change over time as more bid wins for Japan are included - show that 186 international association conventions are booked to take place in Japan beginning January 2020. Travel within Japan has always been easy, but now this is even more the case, and the country’s knowledge hubs and star attractions are highly accessible to business events participants. Whether joining a post-congress study tour to learn about Japan’s innovations and best practices, or a reward and motivational experience for a group of top dealers, business events organisers and participants have much to look forward to.

Japan is expecting over 40 million visitors in the 2020 Olympic year, up from 31 million in 2018, and up to 60 million by 2030. To accommodate the growing demand, the country will see an increase of new hotels opening from major hotel groups as well as independent properties. These and many other improvements and expansions mean that business travel in Japan will run smoothly for the peak period of the much-anticipated Games, and retain increased capacity and efficiency going forward. Construction work on the 286km maglev shinkansen between Tokyo and Nagoya has already begun, and by 2045, it is expected that such trains will cut journey time between Osaka and Tokyo by half.

Business events participants who have met in Japan are invited to share their Japan memories and experience through the hashtag #LetsMeetInJapan. To participate in this campaign which kicked off on 10th September this year, participants just need to post their photos or comments to the hashtag on either Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. Lucky winners can score a USD30 Amazon gift card, or win a trip to Japan – a great chance to return to Japan, this time for leisure. The competition closes on 10thDecember 2019.

“We will take this great opportunity to promote Japan as a business events destination so that even more events and meetings will visit Japan after 2020,” says Ms Etsuko Kawasaki, Executive Director of Japan Convention Bureau. Japan will be at Stand H80 at ibtm WORLD from 19th-21st November 2019 at Fira Barcelona Gran Via.

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