Dubai – MENA Herald: Kyoto, Japan’s ancient imperial capital for over 1,000 years and home to Japan’s many cultural traditions, arts and crafts, has struck a chord with the hearts and minds of an increasing number of nationals from the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, with the total number of visitors from the region choosing to overnight in Kyoto increasing by 37% in 2015 compared to 2014 figures. According to the latest figures available, 2016 results from the months of January and February are even more incredible with a further increase of 153% of G.C.C. nationals staying in Kyoto when compared to the same period in 2015.
Says Shuhei Akahoshi, Managing Director Kyoto Convention & Visitors Bureau: “Since the opening of our promotional office in Dubai in April 2014 we have seen the number of Gulf State nationals visiting our city continuing to increase year on year. Kyoto has been named World’s Best City to visit by the readers of the United States based Travel+Leisure magazine for 2 years in a row in 2014 and 2015, and we are thrilled to see our city also delighting more and more visitors from the Middle East.”
In 2015, nationals from Saudi Arabia increased by 74%, followed nationals from the UAE at 28% and Qataris at 23%.
Says Mr. Akahoshi: “In order to make Muslim and Middle Eastern guests as welcome and comfortable as possible, many of our hotel, hospitality and restaurant partners throughout the city have made extensive efforts to learn the cultural and religious needs of Muslim guests, including making available various services and offerings that are Halal or Muslim-friendly. All this information can be easily accessed through the Muslim Friendly Kyoto website at: http://kyoto.travel/muslim/ “
Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Japanese kaiseki cuisine and even Kyoto’s famous geiko and maiko (apprentice geiko), Kyoto offers visitors unique experiences, landscapes, tastes, shopping opportunities, and memories that last a lifetime.
To further promote Kyoto among the region’s travel agencies, the Kyoto Convention & Visitors Bureau is participating at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) at the Dubai International Convention Centre from 25 – 28 April, 2016, in what is now its third consecutive year to participate in the show. Expanding the Japanese presence at the show, Kyoto has been joined this year for the first time by the Hokkaido Ski Promotion Board and JETRO Japan. Adding to the excitement, the Kyoto Convention Bureau is also bringing a maiko (apprentice geiko) to entertain visitors to the stand with traditional Japanese dance and tea ceremony. Geiko, often mistakenly referred to as “geisha”, are artisans that commit their life to the preservation and perfection of Japanese traditional arts including, tea ceremony, dance, song, and music among others.
Also present at the Japan stand at ATM, is the Kyoto Convention Bureau member and Japan Tour Operator Ayabex, which, in conjunction with Cathay Pacific, has launched a best of Tokyo & Kyoto five day package with exceptional value, starting from AED 8,400. The package includes return flights from Dubai with Cathay Pacific, a one way Bullet Train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto, two night accommodation at each of the Sunroute Shinagawa Seaside and Hearton Hotel Kyoto, city tours in both Tokyo and Kyoto and airport transfers by English-speaking drivers. The package is available through local G.C.C. travel agents and is valid until the end of December 2016.
“It is said among the Japanese that one hasn’t truly visited Kyoto unless one has been there at least four times and experienced it in each of the four seasons,” said Akahoshi. He added: “With the cherry blossom season just over, we now look forward to the new green foliage of spring known as aomomiji which makes it a beautiful time to explore Japan’s traditional gardens and surrounding forests. Following that is the excitement and fun of Kyoto’s many unique festivals that are held throughout the summer, so we hope that visitors, both new and those that have already visited us from the Middle East, will visit us again in the coming months to deepen their appreciation of our very special, and beloved city.”