Organised with the support of the City of Kyoto and the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), the second annual edition of specialist event ILTM Japan (www.iltm.com/japan) closed announcing that over 1000 business appointments took place over the last three days at the SODOH Higashiyama, Kyoto.
Alison Gilmore, Senior Exhibition Director, ILTM Portfolio commented: “The success and focus of ILTM Japan 2014 is clear: luxury travel brands need look no further to meet with those representing the highest net worth of both Japanese travellers and those from the international community.”
Japan is noted for being one of Asia’s largest outbound travel markets, according to the JTA, spending US$ 24 billion between April 2012 and March 2013, an increase of 5% year on year. The only event of its kind in the country and entirely dedicated to the high end Japanese luxury travel sector, ILTM Japan 2014 welcomed over 100 buyers and exhibitors in an agenda of one to one appointments.
International luxury travel buyers attended from Singapore, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, China, Malaysia, Canada, the US and UK - 34% had never visited an ILTM event before. In addition, elite Japanese buyers - 86% of whom were also first time visitors to the event - met with international exhibitors to build global business opportunities. Following ILTM’s successful formula, each buyer was accredited to ensure they met the criteria to attend and was then fully hosted at the event by ILTM.
The scene was set at ILTM Japan’s Opening Forum where industry leaders predicted inbound and outbound trends for Japan’s luxury travel industry. Economist Hitoshi Yoshimura, a former hotel owner and operator and Dean of the Japan Hotel Association summarised Japan’s continuing upward trajectory in its quest to welcome 20 million inbound visitors by 2020 when the Olympic Games will be hosted by Tokyo.
He said: “Japan boasts 8.4% of the world wealthiest individuals, second only to the USA. In addition, with its increasing GDP and rising Nikkei stock index, there is a clear optimism in Japan for the first time in decades. Equally, Japan welcomed 10 million inbound visitors in 2013, the largest number since 1964 when we last hosted the Olympic Games.”
Mary Gostelow, founder of the luxury travel market intelligence newsletter Gostelow Report and arguably one of the most prolific luxury travellers of today also took the audience on a global journey of luxury destinations for the high-end Japanese market.
Finally, a panel of international editors in luxury travel, representing Target, China; Travel + Leisure SE Asia and CREA Traveller, Japan took part in a discussion about what inspires them to decide on their luxury travel features and who features within their annual hot lists, as well as where their readers will be travelling in 2014.
The business of ILTM Japan took place over two days with 1000 appointments taking place between Japanese and international exhibitors and buyers. There was enthusiastic praise for the event from both buyers and exhibitors:
Lianne Kelly-Maartens, International Sales and Marketing Manager, Sun International’s Route of the African Sun:
“The intimacy of ILTM Japan is the reason for its phenomenal success for us. I have begun relationships with some incredible high end buyers that I hope will last a lifetime and we will be back next year to build on this success and continue to expand our Japanese market.”
Florian Piper, Senior International Sales Manager, Oceanwide Expeditions: “This is my first time at an ILTM event and the quality of the Japanese buyers I have met and business already generated has exceeded all my expectations – I cannot wait to attend ILTM Japan 2015.”
Kensuke Takada of Hotel Tsuruga Group:
“We had no idea that there was so much international interest in Japanese luxury travel experiences – we have met with valuable buyers from more than 10 countries and anticipate significant business from almost all.”
International buyer, Daniela Bonanno of South Africa’s Absolute Travel:
“I have discovered some real hidden gems at ILTM Japan – so many special interest and cultural experiences I simply would never have discovered if I had not attended: from bird-watching to traditional samurai culture, this is a world away from Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone.”
Tadashi Kawarmura of Japan’s El Mundo Travel Co Ltd:
“ILTM Japan has introduced me to some incredible opportunities for my high net worth clients. From honeymoons and authentic experiences in Bhutan to the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car on the Abu Dhabi racetrack for my clients at Toyota, I can’t wait to tell them all, all about my discoveries.”