Hokkaido targets Thai tourists with hot spring, onsen attractions 

Economy February 15, 2017 01:00

By  SUCHAT SRITAMA
THE NATION

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FOLLOWING the introduction of a new Shinkansen bullet-train service linking it to Tokyo, the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido is beckoning Thai tourists to experience its natural hot springs and onsen resorts, Kaoru Ohno, secretary-general of the Noboribetsu Tourism Association, said last week. 



Last year, China was the biggest market for international arrivals in Japan, with 6.37 million visitors – up 27.6 per cent from the previous year – followed by South Korea with 5 million (up 27.2 per cent), Taiwan with 4.2 million (up 13.3 per cent) and Hong Kong with 1.8 million (up 20.7 per cent).

These four East Asian markets, plus Thailand, accounted for 72.7 per cent of all international arrivals during 2016.

Kaoru said Japan’s famous ski-resort towns in Hokkaido were now putting more marketing effort into promoting skiing and other winter activities, as well as the island’s hot springs and onsen facilities, to international markets, including Thailand, in a bid to boost the number of foreign tourists visiting the northern region of Japan.

While the association hopes to see more visitors all year round, its main focus is naturally during the winter season, which falls during the current quarter.

He said his association had been working with the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), some of whose members were invited to visit and experience a snow festival in the city of Sapporo on Hokkaido last week. 

“All the hotels and more than 8,000 rooms in Hokkaido are always packed during the winter period, as tourists come for the snow. However, many of them are now also promoting hot springs and onsen for year-round stays,” he added. 

Takahiro Mizuguchi, manager of the Sales Planning Section at Hakodate Ropeway, said the town of Hakodete had become a new attraction for foreign tourists as well as locals, due to the opening of the high-speed Shinkansen train service linking Sapporo to Tokyo. 

Aside from its mountain ropeway, Hakotade is famous |for the Goryokaku Tower, |which offers bird’s-eye view sightseeing.

Prawit Tongvanichnobpakhun, vice president of the TTAA, said the association would be holding the annual “International Travel Fair” in Bangkok from tomorrow until Sunday, and it hoped the event would encourage yet more Thais to visit Japan.

“The number of Thai visitors to Japan is likely to pass one million this year, from 900,000 last year, thanks to the waiving of visa requirements,” he said.

Prawit Tongvanichnobpakhun, vice president of the TTAA, said the association would be holding the annual “International Travel Fair” in Bangkok from tomorrow until Sunday, and it hoped the event would encourage yet more Thais to visit Japan.

“The number of Thai visitors to Japan is likely to pass one million this year, from 900,000 last year, thanks to the waiving of visa requirements,” he said.