Quake-hit Hokkaido taps Hong Kong to revive tourism

Quake-hit Hokkaido taps Hong Kong to revive tourism

Hokkaido is trying to tempt back tourists from overseas in the wake of last month’s massive earthquake, targeting vibrant Asian economies including Hong Kong.

The hotel industry in Hokkaido is still reeling from the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that jolted the southwest of the prefecture on Sept. 6, cutting power supplies to over 5 million residents, killing 41 people and injuring more than 700.

“We are delivering our message to the whole world in six languages: Hokkaido is safe and has recovered already,” Yasuhiro Tsuji, vice governor of Hokkaido, said in an interview.

“We are cooperating with airlines in order to raise the number of travelers.”

Tsuji was in Hong Kong this week for “Hokkaido Showcase: Food, Tourism and Investment,” hosted by the provincial government and the Japan External Trade Organization. It is the first such event held overseas since the disaster.

A total of 14 companies and organizations participated in the food exhibition within the event space, while six companies and organizations joined a seminar on tourism.

Tsuji said his prefecture is placing importance on Hong Kong, where people already have deep knowledge of Japanese food and culture.

Last year, a record 28.7 million people from overseas visited Japan, up 19.3 percent on year, according to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization. The nation attracted a record 2.2 million people from Hong Kong in 2017, up 21.3 percent from 2016, the data showed.

News reports said the quake caused at least ¥10 billion (about $90 million) in canceled reservations, mainly by schools and foreign tourists.

The total damage to Hokkaido infrastructure and all local industries is estimated to exceed ¥400 billion, according to newspaper reports.

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