Large increase in the number of hungarian travelers to Japan
JTB Hungary, the Hungarian ‘arm’ of JTB Corporation, the largest travel agency in Japan and one of the largest travel agencies in the world, has about 12,000 travelers a year and an annual sales income of around HUF two billion (close to EUR 6.5 mn), most of which is realized from organizing corporate travel. JTB also owns japanspecialista.hu for trips to Japan for private individuals.
JTB Hungary clients enjoy the benefit of the mother company having a secure financial background as well as the expertise on the Japanese tourism market. “So, those who travel with us can enjoy the highest quality service throughout the trip,” the General Manager of JTB Hungary, Karolina Simon, assures to Diplomacy&Trade. She joined the company in 2004 and “we built up the outgoing tourism basically from scratch,” she says, adding that “last year, we managed to increase our sales figures again, due to the increased interest in Japan and to the fact that – as a result of our work over the past decade – we have more and more returning clients.”
As to what Hungarian travelers like in Japan, Karolina Simon points out that when people decide to go to Japan as tourists, it is either because they are interested in something Japanese, something that they learned about Japan here in Hungary and traveling to the Far Eastern country is just the crowning of this interest; or they are specifically interested in Japanese culture and since they have not been in Japan before, they would like to see it. “Our travelers are very much culture-oriented. Basically, no one goes there because they want to be on the seaside, bathe in the ocean or have a relaxing trip – people go there knowing that they will walk 15 hours a day in sightseeing trips because there is so much to experience: culture, world heritage, architecture, fashion, mysticism, culinary culture, Japanese sports, etc.”
There is a special occasion for visiting Japan every spring and that is the sakura (the blooming of cherry blossoms). Every year, JTB Hungary sends several groups of tourists to Japan to see this natural phenomenon. “Japan is full at that time of the year. The sakura is so popular that we have to do the booking half a year in advance. I myself saw it this spring and it is really beautiful. It is definitely the ‘non plus ultra’ trip to Japan,” she adds.
JTB Hungary also organizes a lot of incentive trips, not necessarily for their own clients, but for anyone who would like to organize such a trip to Japan – be it technical visit, classical incentive trip or any thematic tour for that matter. The General Manager mentions the example from two years ago when the official travel bureau of the Hungarian Olympic Committee commissioned JTB Hungary to take old Hungarian athletes to Tokyo who attended the Summer Olympic Games there 50 years before. “They were very satisfied with the implementation,” she recalls.
JTB is an Official Travel Services Partner of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. JTB provides lodging and transport services for the many global-scale mega sports events that will be held in Japan in the months and years ahead.
In summary, the General Manager stresses she is convinced – as it is confirmed by feedback from the travelers – that those taking part in these trips have the feeling that they got much more for their money than they had hoped for. “People have some sort of perception of what awaits them in Japan – and these are already very high expectations – but when they actually see and experience things, all they can say is ‘wow’. Such perfectness in providing service cannot be experienced anywhere else.”
The Top Attractions of Japan
One thing that comes to everyone’s mind about Japan is the Shinkansen, the world’s fastest, so-called bullet train. It is a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country’s major cities on Japan’s main islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido on a total distance of 2,764.6 kms. Running at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the Shinkansen is known for punctuality (most trains depart on time to the second), comfort (relatively silent cars with spacious, always forward facing seats), safety (no fatal accidents in its history) and efficiency. The bullet train also has many advantages compared to air transport, such as downtown stations and comfortable seats, which makes it more convenient for daily travel. These are also considered by the 143 million passengers who use it annually. Purchasing the Japan Rail Pass (JRP) could be a very cost effective option for those who would like to visit more cities while staying in Japan. In Hungary, the rail pass is exclusively available from JTB Hungary.
Every year, from late March to early May, cherry blossoms – or as the Japanese call them Sakura – bloom all over the country. The Japanese culture and way of thinking have always been very close to nature. Sakura dates back almost 1,300 years and means a big deal to the nation. Surprising as it may sound, there is even a blossom forecast in the media to let people know when exactly this lovely period starts. Hanami, which means watching the beauty of the flowers, is a very popular and traditional activity amongst Japanese people. The tradition is still alive today completed with picnics and parties under the flowering trees. Thousands of people gather in parks to celebrate. Sakura is also a highly favored ’season‘ for tourists to visit the country, hence JTB is offering an exclusive 12-day Sakura tour in 2017.
In Japan, everyone will find the culinary experience that fits his or her taste and budget – from street food to Michelin star restaurants. Japan is leading the world when it comes to fine dining. Japanese culture and mentality emphasize precision, quality and simplicity, which could be seen in cuisine, as well. The country is also blessed with a wide range of very high quality ingredients due to its location. For instance, one could find not less than 700 different species of fish at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo. It is important to know that the famous tuna auctions will not be held after the winter of 2017 – you may want to take the last opportunity to see it! Japan is a rewarding place to visit for many reasons – its food scene is definitely one of them.
The most traditional costume in Japan, the kimono, means a ‘thing to wear‘. Originally, it is made of the finest hand painted silk and was worn by both men and women. People used to wear different versions for different occasions, moreover, one could tell the title and marital status from specific colors and patterns of a kimono. Even though, tradition never goes out of fashion in Japan, it does not mean that it cannot be renewed. Since its breakthrough in 794, we could see many versions of the world famous kimono. Popular designers keep coming up with new ideas to make the traditional garment more wearable for the women of the 21th century. Materials vary from cotton to calico and synthetic silk to make kimonos comfortable. In addition, designers are using modern printed patterns and stylish accessories.
Located in the Canto region, next to Tokyo Bay, the capital has nearly 14 million habitants, which makes it the most populous metropolitan in the world. It comes no surprise then that Tokyo is the first and the best when it comes to a lot of things. Besides hosting the most (51) of the Fortune Global 500 companies and ranking first in the Safe Cities Index, the Michelin Guide has awarded to Tokyo by far more Michelin stars than to Paris and New York combined. The city features a wide range of local and international cuisine. Contrary to common perception, the capital offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center. Sports lovers take notice: Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Kyoto is often called the heart of traditional Japan and is identified with Japanese culture in general. The former capital is a highly popular destination; its cultural heritages are constantly visited by both Japanese and foreign tourist groups. With its about two thousand religious places, countless palaces, gardens and other historically priceless structures, it is one of the best preserved cities in the country. Kyoto also features maiko shows, tea ceremonies and a variety of cultural programs. Those fortunate enough may see a geisha or a maiko pass by.
Mt. Fuji is the highest and most famous mountain in Japan. Mt. Fuji is 3,776 meters above sea level. Its elegant conical form has frequently been depicted in many paintings and literary works since ancient times.
From the mountain top, you will command an exquisite view of a field of clouds spreading endlessly into the distance under the indigo sky. In particular, the early morning scene of the sun rising from the sea of clouds is of an inexpressible beauty. The area can be visited in July and August only – JTB Hungary organizes tours in this timeframe every year.
Forrás: Diplomacy & Trade