The Japan Cooperation Centre for the Middle East has unveiled plans for increased Japanese investment in the region at the ATM 2007.The Hotel JAL Fujeirah Resort and Spa, the first Japanese-owned hotel to open in the region, is scheduled to open in May 2007, followed by two further hotels in Dubai and Bahrain.
‘As the only wholly owned Japanese global hotel chain, with 63 properties worldwide, JAL Hotels is uniquely positioned to lead Japanese industry investment in the region,’ said Mr Norihisa Ishida, JAL Hotels.
‘The GCC has emerged as one of the fastest growing and most profitable hotel markets in the world, with the tourism sector across the Middle East recording strong growth overall. It is our intention to pave the way in delivering the highest standards of service through a unique blend of renowned Japanese hospitality and local custom.’
The 257-room Hotel JAL Fujeirah Resort and Spa will open in May 2007, making it the 51st hotel in the Nikko Hotels international chain. Currently in development is the Hotel JAL Tower Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road, scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2008 with 486 rooms and suites. A new five-star luxury resort, the Hotel JAL Bahrain Resort & Spa in the Amwaj Islands is also currently in development to be completed by 2009.
With over 16 million Japanese travelling overseas annually, the Middle East represents a key market for increased investment in the region by the Japanese hospitality industry.
The Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) and Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) have launched targeted programmes aimed at increasing industry knowledge of the Japanese traveller and positioning Japan as a preferred luxury and cultural destination for high-end leisure travellers from the Middle East.
‘Japan offers travellers unparalled and unique hospitality service levels, and the JTB Asia Tourist Corp. have arranged luxury resort and holiday packages targeted at the traveller looking for a unique personal experience of the heritage of Japan,’ said Kenichi Sawaguchi, Senior Director, Planning & Project, JCCME.
‘With its traditional values of hospitality, pristine natural beauty and centuries-old traditions, Japan offers Middle Eastern visitors a plethora of luxury experiences,’ he continued. ‘Several tour packages have been specifically tailored to regional visitors, seeking superior accommodation in imperial castles and traditional Japanese hotels, and include chauffeur driven private tours with an English speaking guide.’
Introducing regional travellers to the gracious luxury of traditional Japanese hospitality through a focus on a traditional Japanese ‘Ryokan’, the ‘Yoshida Sanso’ in Kyoto is a featured accommodation highlight for luxury travellers throughout ATM 2007. The former villa of the uncle of the current Emperor Akihito, Yoshida Sanso is a fusion of dignity and simplicity in the Japanese style.
One of the leading travel companies in Japan, Kinki International (KNT) specialises in destination management and provide a wide range of capabilities from incentive tours, international conferences, sporting and cultural events and special interest tours.
‘We are creating many valuable opportunities for tour operators and travel agents to visit Japan in the coming 12 months. We are confident that once GCC visitors have experienced the warmth and hospitality of Japan, tourism traffic will continue to build through positive word-of-mouth,’ said Mr Yuji Osada, Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA).
‘The Middle East has been identified as a strategic focus for industry growth from Japan. It is our aim to raise awareness of Japan as a luxury leisure destination offering visitors a unique selection of experiences, whether it be on the snowfields of Hokkaido, the urban bustle of Tokyo or the refined elegance of the former imperial capital, Kyoto,’ he concluded.