Stop what you are doing and read this. Japan depends on what you and others do to make sure that Americans understand what is really going on here. I should know, as this is being published I am somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my return flight from Tokyo.
I’ve spent a total of seven nights staying in Sendai, located in one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami, and Tokyo, a city that hasn’t missed a beat in the aftermath of the disaster. I arrived in Tokyo for one evening and immediately departed the next day for Sendai to see the damage first-hand. Back home we are inundated by the media with those horrific images of the wave crashing over land as it took houses, cars and boats with it.
Seeing the effects of this damage was certainly heart breaking, but that wasn’t the end of the story. What I saw was a thriving city of over one million people going on about their business of living. Watch this video that debuted on TravelPulse.com on Monday (http://bit.ly/k7zF73) to see the city as we captured it while on our travels.
I walked Sendai’s streets and saw everything from the nightlife to the shopping arcades packed with shoppers. What I didn’t see, of course, were many tourists, who have been led to believe that it isn’t safe to travel here. If you read Travel Pulse on June 13, you would have seen the news that it is safe in Japan, according to the U.S. Department of State and not just the Japanese government (see http://bit.ly/llEQPo). Now that both governments are on the same page, it should be easier to get your clients to start thinking about traveling to Japan.
Tokyo is one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s doing more than thriving, as I discovered. There is an energy here that runs throughout the city, which is actually made up of many smaller cities. I was able to explore these different “neighborhoods” and each of their unique personalities. There is an exciting vibe to Tokyo that I’ve never quite experienced in any other city.
Tokyo is a city on the move and one that is open for business with great hotels and some of the best food you’ll ever eat in the world. We stayed at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu (www.CapitolHotelTokyu.com) in the city center near a neighborhood known as Akasada. I’ll write more about it in upcoming issue of Vacation Agent magazine, but for now I’d encourage you to check it out for your clients traveling to Tokyo. It features impeccable service and very well-appointed rooms. Indeed, the property is the flagship of Tokyu Hotels (www.tokyuhotels.co.jp), a chain with a total of 50 hotels in Japan.
You can jump out into the neighborhoods near virtually any hotel and choose from enough restaurants and bars to make you dizzy. Tokyo is a city that thrives on food. A bowl of noodles or any other dish might run you $10 to $12 at most eateries. If you think that Tokyo is expensive, then you need to change your mind on that front because there is serious value here for the food dollar. Foodies will love it here!
Overall there are plenty of reasons to travel to Japan, but the two main reasons come down to this: Your clients can get a great deal right now if they want to check out Japan while at the same time supporting a destination that could really use their help. As travel agents on the front lines, you can make some of your own news on Japan and share ideas on how to make the most of this wonderful destination with your customers. To learn even more, you also can check out the Japan travel agent training course at www.TravelAgentAcademy.com.
Mark Murphy is president and CEO of Performance Media, parent of TravelPulse.com, Agent @ Home magazine, Vacation Agent magazine, Travel Agent Academy and Virtual Travel Events.