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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

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