Rolling Out The Red Carpet

Daisuke Kobayashi, Executive Director, JNTO Dubai Office
Daisuke Kobayashi, Executive Director, JNTO Dubai Office

By raising awareness and giving a glimpse into the vast variety of culturally unique aspects of the country, the JNTO Dubai office has been amping up the level of local interest in Japan

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 11:01 AM

A year since its inception, the new office of Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) in Dubai, has witnessed an increase in the level of interest shown by visitors from the Middle East to Japan.

In an engaging interaction on strengthening and expanding Japanese tourism through the organisation, Daisuke Kobayashi, Executive Director, Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) Dubai Office, shares his insights on the same.

In the backdrop of 50 years of diplomatic relations, how has the bond strengthened between the two countries?

In the past 50 years, the relationship between Japan and the UAE has strengthened in the areas of economy, culture, education, and art. Additionally, the number of visitors from the UAE to Japan has also shown continued increase. We were extremely happy to open our Dubai office last year, which has contributed to furthering the development of tourism exchange between the two countries.

How far has JNTO (specifically the Middle East region) been successful in spreading awareness about the culture and lifestyle of Japan?

One of the things that surprised me since my posting here has been the very high level of interest in Japan shown by the people in the Middle East, with many of them having created their initial connection to Japan through anime and manga.

Despite this high level of interest in Japan, recent survey results have revealed that a majority has not had a chance to visit Japan yet.

One of our missions at JNTO has been to expand the awareness of Japan within the Middle East, so that people feel more at ease with actually making their first trip to Japan. We believe that it is necessary to provide more specific information about the diverse tourism attractions of Japan, and one way of achieving that is through our social media accounts @visitjapanme for Facebook and Instagram.

With the rising popularity of Japanese cuisine amongst the locals (Arabs), has this translated into an increase in tourism from the region?

One of the touristic attractions that we are extremely proud of is our food; Japanese cuisine. The results of past research shows that the level of interest in Japanese cuisine among people in the Middle East is relatively higher than that in other parts of the world. We also understand that food is a very important drive factor to attract tourists.

As such, I’m very happy that Japanese cuisine has gained popularity as the number of Japanese restaurants in the UAE also increases, with more and more people getting familiarised and appreciating our food culture. It would give me great satisfaction and pleasure to know that the number of people visiting Japan to enjoy the authentic taste of Japanese food is increasing.

What are some important pieces of information that first-time visitors to Japan need to be aware of?

Japan is blessed with four distinct seasons, each of which brings its own delights in terms of gastronomy, nature, and traditions. The seasons are at the heart of Japanese culture, and we want to highlight the different attractions and experiences on offer for visitors throughout different times of the year, while also emphasising the fact that Japan is one of the world’s safest destinations. One visit to Japan is never enough to experience all we have to offer.

What are some of the most popular tourist destinations and how does this list change in context to the seasons?

Recommendations change depending on the purpose and timing of your trip. For those visiting Japan for the first time, it would be a standard itinerary to include cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. For those who have visited Japan before, it is strongly recommended to venture into other regions that can easily be explored through one or two nights stay from Tokyo or Osaka.

If you would like to relax at a remote island in the summer, you can visit the southern island of Okinawa to enjoy resort lifestyle with a Japanese twist. If you would like to be active during the winter, please try the finest powder snow and hot springs in Hokkaido or Tohoku region.

The purpose of travelling abroad is infinitely different depending on the person, but the greatest attraction of Japan is its diversity that allows you to enjoy your holidays to the fullest, fulfilling your desires, interests, and wishes no matter when you travel, where you travel within the country or with whom you decide to travel with.

What are the prospective future plans towards expanding tourism to Japan especially from the Middle East region?

I believe that people in the Middle East are already very interested in Japan. One of our most important missions going forward is to encourage as many people as possible who are interested in Japan to actually venture forth and visit the country.

We opened the Dubai office in November 2021 to carry out promotional activities specific to the Middle East market and to strengthen our cooperation with the region’s airlines, travel agencies and media, and to raise awareness of Japan as an aspirational travel destination. We will continue to do this by providing as much information and inspiration about Japan’s diverse touristic attractions as possible through various channels.

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