Last updated: 03:47 PM ET, Sat May 14 2016

Japanese Travel Agency Cancels Sexist Promotion

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | May 14, 2016

Japanese Travel Agency Cancels Sexist Promotion

PHOTO: HIS Travel Agency apology on Facebook

One of Japan’s leading travel agencies has been forced to cancel an ill-advised, sexist promotion after major backlash on social media.

HIS, based in Shinjuku Ward – a well-known business district in Tokyo – was offering five passengers a chance to fly to their destination accompanied by a female student from the prestigious University of Tokyo.

The ads that appeared online promised the winners of the promotion a chance to "spend their time in the air in a meaningful way" with the students -- two engineers, a science student, a literature student or an education student – ostensibly to be educated about the girls’ respective major or about the destination the passenger was traveling to.

According to Japanese press reports, however, the women were to be chosen from a biannual anthology called Todai Bijo Zukan, which translates to Pictorial Book of Beautiful Girls at Todai. Todai is the local name used for the University of Tokyo.

The Japan Times reported that HIS said its intention was to offer customers “a new way to spend their time while on a flight.”

“The concept was [for the winner] to pass the time in the cabin of the aircraft in a fun and meaningful way,” a representative of HIS told NHK, “but this has given rise to a misunderstanding. We took everyone’s opinions seriously and decided to cancel the promotion.

The promotion began last Wednesday morning; it ended after 12 hours.

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