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CITY FOCUS Where is Kyoto and how easy is it to reach? When most people think of a Japanese city they think of the modern capital, Tokyo, not realising that Tokyo has in fact only been the capital for the last 140 years. For more than a thousand years, prior to 1868, the cultural, political and social heart of Japan was Kyoto. It is located in the West of Japan in the Kansai area and is accessible by air from Europe ( nine hours), North America ( 10 hours) and Sydney ( nine hours). Kyoto is 135 minutes from Tokyo on the Bullet Train. Our population is small by Japanese standards, just 1.5m, but we remain incredibly diverse, particularly as more than 10 per cent of the city's inhabitants are students. Kyoto University has educated more than half of our country's Nobel Prize winners. What conferencing infrastructure does Kyoto offer? Kyoto boasts the country's flagship venue, the Kyoto International Conference Centre, which features architecture celebrating temple and shrine building traditions. The centre is capable of holding meetings for up to 20,000 people using HDTV links across its many suites, while the largest single room has a capacity of 3,000. Our convention hotels include both international and domestic brands, such as the Hyatt, Westin, IHG ANA, Granvia, Okura and Righa Royal Japanese. In total there are more than 16,000 hotel rooms across the city, plus a further 14,000 rooms across the traditional Japanese Ryokan inns. We also have a number of unusual venues including temples, shrines, The Japan's former capital Kyoto, which boasts more UNESCO world heritage sites than anywhere in the world, is working hard to attract international conference business. Vikki Carleyspeaks to Kyoto Convention Bureau's international marketing manager James Kent. Garden Oriental Kyoto and Azekura town-centre villas, as well as the Toei Uzumasa Movie Studios. What differentiates Kyoto and makes it attractive to the meetings market? As the cultural heart of Japan and capital for more than 1,200 years, the city balances its tradition and culture with modern day city life and brands such as Nintendo. With 17 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites and 2,000 temples and shrines there are endless opportunities for visitors to gain a hands- on understanding of Japan's rich and colourful history. In fact, the city is often referred to as a living museum. What large events are coming to the city in the near future? The biggest and most likely to achieve worldwide attention is the APEC 2010 Finance Ministers Meeting due to take place later this year. It will bring together some of the financial world's most powerful figures and allow the city to demonstrate its ability to hold high profile, high security events. We are also looking forward to welcoming the 45th Scoliosis Research Society Annual Meeting, as well as the World Molecular Imagining Congress from the USA. In 2011, we will see even larger meetings like the ISTH Association Conference with several Kyoto is beating the drum for international business, but remaining in tune with its rootsthousand delegates. The trail to Kyoto can be culturally rewarding July/ August 2010 Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net 21 ?? Culture choice in Kyoto

CITY FOCUS numbers in the spring. Japan and Kyoto made great efforts to improve further facilities for personal hygiene. The nation as a whole carried out a successful campaign to show that the world's most squeaky- clean hygiene- conscious nation was even cleaner! Currency changes now show the added value of Kyoto's offering, particularly with incentives. How is business bearing up in the current climate? Association conventions and conferences always take a long term view. Conferences themselves have not been cancelled, and participant numbers are greater in 2010 than in spring of 2009. Indeed, our member companies are reporting a marked increase in the number of incentives in 2010 over 2009. These include globally recognised companies. However, they will not allow their names to be discussed. Spend per event across association and corporate is more confident than last year. Which countries are you targetting with your marketing? We are not driven by geographical concerns, rather group type. In terms of conferences, the city has proven it can handle more than Where has the bulk of your business wins come from in the last year? Geographically, Europe and North America remain our most popular customers, while high- end incentive travel and small- medium association conferences have been the key market sectors. Have you seen a rise in local clients? Kyoto has a special place in the heart of the Japanese. The reason that it's not always chosen tends to come down to practicalities: Tokyo is the business centre of Japan and the price in Kyoto can be a factor. I am conscious of the fact that we have been more effective as a sales team at the Bureau in the last 12 months in communicating where Kyoto fits the need, rather than being an ' off- the- wall' choice. We have had one bid recently that we wooed back to Kyoto by finding the clients a venue within their budget, while educating them on our service levels, including writing the bid paper for free. What have been some challenges you have faced over the past year? Looking back 12 months, the largest challenge to the industry here was swine influenza. This really affected participant 22July/ August 2010 Conference+ Meetings World www. c- mw. net 20,000, such as at the Third World Water Forum in 2003. The ideal size for a single venue might well be up to 10,000, however. For groups looking to delve into the ultimate exclusive experiences that Kyoto can offer to incentive travel then sizes up to about 500 are ideal. Experience shows that these groups have come mostly from North America and Europe in the past. Where are you positioning your marketing efforts this year and next? Points that come to the top of the list of developments this year include: extra support to member companies because a little extra push here can deliver truly positive results, and expanding our network by joining and taking active part in new and more varied industry associations. This industry is all about delivering solutions to human needs. And, if someone at the Bureau is the friendly face that the city's next business opportunity wants to talk with, then that is great. We also use a PR agency in our target market sector because, frankly, Kyoto is not well known. The more interest we can generate that might trigger conversations leading to business opportunities, the better. Where is the greatest competition and how do you face this? Within the country, well known destinations such as Tokyo can be competitors for business. One effective strategy is to show how close, yet how contrasting, Kyoto and Tokyo are. They can also make complementary destinations. We try to show the added return on experiencing both. Likewise, we work with Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau on a number of marketing projects. Worldwide, all the popular destinations with European and North American planners become competition. However, we return to the crux of our message, which is that you cannot experience anything quite like Japan anywhere in the world, but Japan. Kyoto ICC