Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism exhibition, announced yesterday afternoon that Japan had been honoured with the New Frontiers Award 2012.
Last year’s recipient Chile attended the Arabian Travel Market 2012 to present the award to Mr Daisuke Matsunaga, Consul-General, Japanese Embassy in Dubai alongside Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The award, in recognition of Japan’s sustained efforts in rebuilding its physical infrastructure and reviving its tourism product in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the country’s northeastern coast.
“The Japanese government and its people have displayed extraordinary resilience in the face of such extreme adversity, and have made significant strides in getting the country’s economy back on track. The sheer determination and concerted efforts of Japan’s people in pushing ahead with such a monumental task is truly inspiring,” remarked Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, addressing the press conference.
On March 10, 2011, the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the northeastern coast of the country with cataclysmic force, sending waves of up to 40.5 metres 10 kilometres inland across 18 prefectures, causing massive loss of life, the destruction of over 125,000 homes and businesses and three nuclear reactor meltdowns.
In addition to significant international aid, Japan’s government has allocated US$167 billion over five years as part of a phased recovery plan. While tourism numbers dipped by at least 50% in 2011, the government has also embarked on an ambitious plan to triple the number of international tourists by 2016 with a strong focus on increasing inbound visitor business fromChina. In Q1 2012 inbound visitors fromChina, Hong Kong and Taiwan reached record highs and attractive tour packages targeting European visitors are also slowly yielding results.
Mr Daisuke Matsunaga, JapaneseConsul-General in Dubai, who accepted the award, said: “On behalf of the Japanese people, we are honoured to receive this prestigious award from the Middle East’s tourism industry. Our plans for phased recovery are moving forward, and the efforts of our tourism board and related government bodies are instrumental in reconfirming to the world that Japan is certainly a destination with untold natural beauty and cultural wealth. There is still some ground to be recovered, but we are already seeing a return to normality in many areas of the economy – of which tourism is a major driver – and we appreciate the support and recognition of the tourism industry in this region.”
Launched in 2005 by Arabian Travel Market, The New Frontiers Award was created to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity.
As well as the prestigious crystal trophy, the New Frontiers Award comprises ATM exhibition space valued at US$10,000 along with additional marketing support in promoting the outstanding tourism opportunities offered by Japan.
Japan was selected as winner of the New Frontiers Award by a panel of judges consisting of industry professionals from across the globe. From an original selection of 10 countries, which was then refined to a shortlist also comprising Australia and Brazil, Japan was chosen after the judges considered a number of decisive factors. These included support from local and national governments, utilisation of international aid packages, tangible signs of recovery and overall effort on behalf of government and citizens.
Last year,Chile received the New Frontiers Award in recognition of its efforts to rebuild its shattered post-2010 earthquake tourism industry, which saw 80% of the population, as well as the entire economy, affected.
Photo-caption (L-R): Mr Daisuke Matsunaga, JapaneseConsul-General in Dubai receiving his award from Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions and MrCarlos Salas, TradeCommissioner, Embassy ofChile in United Arab Emirates.