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AirAsia Japan to launch flights to Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa

Jun 03 (Sun ), 2012

 AirAsia Japan to launch flights to Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa   AirAsia Japan, the newest low-cost carrier (LCC) based at Narita International Airport, is set to launch operations on domestic routes with daily flights to Fukuoka, Okinawa and Sapporo starting Aug 1.   To celebrate, the low cost airline launched a promotion with 10,000 seats from 5 yen which sold out in less than a day.   Kazuyuki Iwakata, CEO, AirAsia Japan said, “AirAsia Japan’s objective is to develop the LCC market in Japan, generating new demand with the aim of making affordable and quality travel available to all. In less than one year since the establishment of AirAsia Japan, we are pleased to launch three domestic destinations. The 84 weekly flights are expected to help meet demand from business and leisure travellers between, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Okinawa and Tokyo.”   Source: Asia Travel Tips

Etihad Airways offers free night's stay to stopover passengers

Jun 03 (Sun ), 2012

 Etihad Airways offers free accommodation to stopover passengers   Etihad Airways is offering one night’s free accommodation to passengers who stop over in Abu Dhabi for a minimum of two nights before Dec 1, 2012.   The Essential Stopovers offer, part of the airline’s Essential Abu Dhabi program, can be redeemed at 25 hotels, ranging from three to five-star.   Additional nights in four and five-star accommodation can be purchased for as low as $59 per person, based on twin share, and $45 for three-star accommodation.   Etihad Airways passengers taking advantage of the stopover offer can also enjoy two-for-one deals at Ferrari World, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Yas Links and Monte Carlo Beach Club.   There are also two-for-one safaris or tours with Desert Safari and Abu Dhabi City Tour.   The stopover program offer is available to all Etihad Airways passengers, as well to passengers traveling on Etihad Airways-marketed flights. All passengers must have an onward booking beyond Abu Dhabi.   “We are delighted to invite people from all over the world to experience Abu Dhabi for themselves. The capital city of the United Arab Emirates has so much to offer both business and leisure travelers,” said Etihad Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Baumgartner. “This offer is to encourage people to explore the Emirate of Abu Dhabi – be that with a visit to the Arabian desert, a trip to one of the world’s largest mosques, a tour of the attractions on Yas Island or by sampling the Emirate’s world class hotels and restaurants. Abu Dhabi is a magical place with something to offer everyone.”   Source: AsiaTravelTips.com

DoubleTree by Hilton opens Okinawa hotel in Naha

Jun 03 (Sun ), 2012

  DoubleTree by Hilton opens Okinawa hotel in Naha   Hilton Worldwide has opened the DoubleTree by Hilton in Naha, Okinawa – the 10th Hilton Worldwide hotel in Japan and the first in the fast-growing, upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand portfolio. The 227-room hotel is directly opposite the Okinawa Monorail station in Asahibashi, 11 minutes away from Naha Airport by monorail and 500 meters away from the local ferry terminal.   “DoubleTree by Hilton is delighted to continue the expansion of our Asia Pacific presence by introducing another rewarding hotel experience with the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. This new addition is our first in Japan and an extraordinary milestone for our brand’s global growth. It continues our growth strategy to provide outstanding hotel offerings in gateway countries and cities around the world,” said Rob Palleschi, global head, DoubleTree by Hilton.   Guests at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha will enjoy the characteristic qualities currently found at the brand’s more than 300 DoubleTree by Hilton locations in 24 countries around the world, including the warm welcome of the brand’s legendary chocolate chip cookie presented to every guest at check-in; an array of upscale amenities and guest services; the rewards of the Hilton HHonors guest loyalty program; and a unique and caring team member commitment to the local community.   “We are thrilled at the opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha. With close to 50 years of proud history in Japan, this latest opening is our tenth and further reinforces Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to growth in this wonderful country with our diverse and outstanding portfolio of hospitality brands that includes DoubleTree by Hilton,” said Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. “The DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha will contribute to making Okinawa a great place to visit for business and pleasure.”   Located along Higashimachi, DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha is just one kilometer from Kokusai Dori, the premier shopping district in Naha, and various Okinawa government and business centers such as Okinawa City Hall, Tax Bureau, Commerce Authority and the Electricity Supply Bureau. The Shuri Castle, formerly a royal palace during the time of the Ryuku Kingdom and presently a world heritage site, is five kilometers away.   The 12-story DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha has a 40-square-meter meeting room, a salon, a laundry and car parking facilities. Guests can also enjoy their meals at The Riverside Restaurant and Café, the hotel’s all-day dining outlet serving an international cuisine.   Including the DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha, Hilton Worldwide currently operates 10 properties in Japan including Conrad Tokyo, Hilton Tokyo, Hilton Tokyo Bay, Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport, Hilton Odawara Resort and Spa, Hilton Osaka, Hilton Niseko Village, Hilton Nagoya and Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk.   The DoubleTree by Hilton, Naha is located at 3-15 Higashimachi, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 900-0034. For more information, visit Doubletree.com   Source: Business Wire

Peach Aviation Will Start Osaka-Hong Kong Flights July 1

Jun 03 (Sun ), 2012

 Peach Aviation prepares for Osaka-Hong Kong service   Peach Aviation, a low cost airline based in Japan, has appointed Pacific Aviation Marketing (HK) Limited as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in Hong Kong.   Pacific Aviation’s experienced sales and marketing professionals are responsible for the long-term positioning of Peach as a quality budget airline whilst promoting its services and network to those in Hong Kong.   Starting from July 1, Peach Aviation will launch flights between Hong Kong and Osaka (Kansai), with daily flights using an A320-200 aircraft of 180 seats.   Tickets sales for the Japanese market have already commenced while Hong Kong – Osaka airfares and ticket sales date are expected to commence shortly.   Source: Japan Today

Ritz-Carlton Opens First Luxury Resort in Okinawa

Jun 03 (Sun ), 2012

Ritz-Carlton has opened its first luxury resort in Japan, on the tropical island of Okinawa.   Okinawa has been a popular getaway for generations of Japanese visitors but remains relatively unexplored by the international luxury traveler.   The island features championship golf courses and is surrounded by pristine emerald waters that are perfect for waterborne activities.   The Okinawan concept of hospitality or “gusuku” which translates as “castle” or “guest house” has been carefully reflected throughout the property to give it a welcoming sense of place. The new Ritz-Carlton resort embodies this spirit through its landscaping and contemporary architectural design which extensively features the Shurijo face motifs, distinctive red clay roof tiles, white walls and holy water ponds.   “We are delighted to be able to bring our first true luxury resort hotel to Japan to complement our city hotels in Tokyo and Osaka,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. “We have no doubt that Okinawa has the potential to be a resort island of true international appeal, attracting visitors from all over the world, whether they are visiting the island for business or pleasure. It really is a hidden gem and the opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa helps to put this destination on the map for discerning luxury travellers.”   The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa enjoys sweeping panoramic views that overlook the East China Sea and the Kise Country Club.   Inspired by the spectacular scenery of ancient forests, manicured golf courses and the sea, the luxurious resort has been designed to be in harmony with its natural surroundings.   Restaurants at the resort include:   —Chura-Nuhji – an Italian fine dining restaurant which takes its name from the Okinawan word for beautiful rainbow. The restaurant with its own outdoor terrace overlooking the sea and the golf course is led by Executive Chef Koji Hayakawa who has been at the forefront of restaurants which have helped to popularize Italian fine dining. He previously was head chef of Ristorante La Granata Ginza and Ristoranted La Granata, TBS.   —Kise, a Teppan-yaki restaurant offers local seafood and renowned Okinawan, Kuroge and Wagyu beef.   —Gusuku, an all-day dining experience that serves Japanese, Okinawan and international dishes.   Guests can also enjoy traditional afternoon tea and a variety of finger foods in the Lobby Lounge, in a space that offers views of the emerald green sea overlooking the golf course. The Bar serves special cocktails, international favorites and a selection of the Okinawan spirit, Awamori.   Poolside guests can also relax in the Library which offers a selection of books as well as a bar and casual dining.   Located a short stroll through landscaped gardens is The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA, in its own separate enclave. The Spa features four treatment rooms, four dry treatment rooms, outdoor Cabanas offering Shiatsu or Thai massage. It also offers the Heat Experience (Steam Sauna, Jacuzzi hot tubs, Stone Sauna with weathered coral tiles). Two special Retreat Suites are also available (Forest Suite and Ocean Suite) with their own private decks and stone baths. The spa retreat also houses a Nail Studio, Relaxation Room, Indoor Pool, and the fitness center.   Source: AsiaTravelTips.com

Beijing Considers Visa-free Travel for Transit

May 28 (Mon ), 2012

  Beijing Considers Visa-free Travel for Transit  Beijing is considering allowing foreign tourists a 72-hour window to explore the capital without a visa.   Fu Zhenghua, the city's director of public security, has confirmed that authorities are mulling over the move, saying it would represent a crucial sign that Beijing is open to the world.   Lin Song at the public security bureau's exit-entry administration echoed that view on Sunday. "It's expected that the project will attract more tourists from abroad."   Neither the bureau nor the Beijing Tourism Development Committee, which proposed the policy, would offer more details about the visa window when contacted by China Daily.   However, experts said the policy is expected to be similar to ones already being run in Shanghai (48 hours) and South China's Hainan province (21 days for tour groups).   "Shanghai and neighboring cities, such as Hangzhou and Wuxi, have benefited greatly (since Shanghai introduced a visa waiver for transit passengers), as it means foreign tourists can travel during a 48-hour stay," said Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy's international tourism development institute.   "With so many foreign people transiting in Beijing, the visa waiver program will allow many of them to tour around the ancient city."   A tourism analyst, who did not want to be identified, told China Daily that Beijing officials had considered a project last year that would allow visitors to stay in the capital for seven days without a visa. However, the idea was shelved.   "The newly proposed waiver would be a giant step forward, as the visa policy plays a crucial role in the country's inbound and outbound tourism development," said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy.   Although China has relatively tight visa restrictions, and has few visa exemption agreements with other countries, Dai said the country has gradually loosened its visa policy in recent years. He said many cities worldwide have come up with visa waiver projects to attract more tourists, including Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.   "A tight visa policy will only wave goodbye to those potential visitors," he said. Li Xinjian, a professor of tourism at Beijing International Studies University, agreed and added that, as the number of Chinese tourists going abroad has soared in recent years, many countries, including the United States and Japan, have relaxed limits on visas to attract more tourists.   Foreigners traveling to China spent 4.7 billion yuan ($743 million) more than Chinese outbound tourists in 2008, he said. However, Chinese tourists spent 4 billion yuan more than them a year later, and the difference exceeded 24.1 billion yuan in 2011.   The proposed visa waiver for Beijing comes almost two weeks after the city's public security bureau launched a 100-day crackdown on illegal immigrants.   Bureau director Fu said the campaign was to make sure each foreigner is aware of China's exit-entry regulations while curbing crimes by visitors who overstay or abuse their welcome.   In response to complaints from some sections of the expatriate community about the policy, the police issued a statement on Friday saying that the crackdown has not changed the city’s friendly attitude toward foreigners.   On the same day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei insisted that there is no "anti-foreigner trend" in China, adding that the country will welcome and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the foreigners coming to China.   Jiang said she believes there is little possibility that the visa waiver would result in an increase of illegal residents among foreign tourists.   What is more important, she said, is to stimulate China's inbound tourism.   "It's vital that cities come up with reforms to boost inbound tourism," she said. "Other cities can learn from the experiences as well."   Wei Xiang, a professor of tourism management at Beijing International Studies University, said besides the boost to the tourism industry, the visa project will step up China's diplomacy and foreign trade with countries in the long run as well.   "The policy will bring more benefits than we can imagine," he said.   "The scrutiny that the city is undergoing (the 100-day crackdown) will make sure there is better security and public order in the city," Fu said.   Source: chinadaily.com.cn and eTurboNews

Coca-Cola Launches Support Project for Japan's Local Water Resources

May 22 (Tue ), 2012

 Coca-Cola Launches Support Project for Japan's Local Water Resources Copyright Coca-Cola Japan   On February 22, 2012, Coca-Cola Japan launched a campaign named "I LOHAS support project for local water resources" with its bottled spring water brand I LOHAS.   With I LOHAS, obtained from seven places in Japan, the company has established a donation campaign aiming at protecting local water resources in Japan. Until 2013 on an as-needed basis, the company will give back part of its sales from between March 5 and December 31, 2012, to non-profit organizations and local governments selected by 47 prefectures for their water resource protection activities, such as cleaning and greening of wellheads, tree planting, and tree thinning.   Source: JFS

Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Supports Reforestation Efforts in Tsunami-hit Areas

May 22 (Tue ), 2012

Japanese Non-Life Insurance Company Supports Reforestation Efforts in Tsunami-hit Coastal Area Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. announced on February 24, 2012, the company's decision to support and participate in the "10-Year Restoration Project for the Coastal Forests of the Tohoku Region," initiated by The Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement-International (OISCA), from March 2012 as part of its efforts to promote post disaster reconstruction. A maritime forest in Sendai Plain, Miyagi Prefecture, used to protect local communities from drifting sand and salt, serving as an important natural levee for the region's environmental protection, but was seriously damaged by the catastrophic tsunami accompanying the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. In order to revitalize the forests, OISCA has initiated a decade-long project to not only increase production of seedlings, planting and nurturing of forests, but also restore farmlands and create employment opportunities for local citizens that will lead to comprehensive regional development and require long-term efforts. The company will take part in the initiative by providing both economic and personnel resources, in terms of a 10 million yen (approximately US$125,000) donation, fund-raising through a charity concert, and volunteer activities by employees to assist the project. Source: JFS

Japanese NPO Starts Residential Solar Co-Ownership Project

May 22 (Tue ), 2012

 Japanese NPO Starts Residential Solar Co-Ownership Project Copyright Ueda Citizen Energy Ueda Citizen Energy, a non-profit organization (NPO) in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, started in November 2011 a unique project called Ainorikun (Japanese word meaning "car pool") for private investors to jointly install solar panels on sunny rooftop space. The NPO solicits "roof owners" to install their own panels while lending the rooftop space of their houses for "panel owners" who install the solar panels for their houses. Both parties reap benefits: the panel owner receives income from selling electricity generated by the solar panels for 10 years after installation to cover the installation costs and then some, while the roof owner acquires ownership of the panel owners' panels 12 year after installation. Income from selling electricity generated by panel owners' panels for two years before the ownership changes will cover part of operation costs of the NPO. Panel owners can also purchase part of the ownership of a system by purchasing shares at 100,000 yen (about U.S.$1,300) a unit, and at 50,000 yen for additional ownership. Ueda City is suitable for photovoltaic generation since it is one of sunniest areas in Japan. However, some residents there want to start solar generation but face barriers to doing so, such as poor access to direct sunlight, installation costs, and installation space. For them, the project connects those who want to increase solar power generation with those who want to lend their rooftop all over the country. Mayumi Fujikawa, the head of the NPO, hopes the project will help promote use of natural energy. Source: JFS  

Mammut Barryvox Element Beacon Monitor Program - Customer Feedback

May 14 (Mon ), 2012

MAMMUT MONITOR GUIDE PROGRAM   There is only one way to go into Japan’s backcountry – safely, and with the right equipment and knowledge. Mammut’s Barryvox Element beacon was created to be easy to use and affordable for new backcountry enthusiasts without sacrificing functionality. Two veteran backcountry guides in Japan share their impressions after using the Barryvox Element beacon with their customers this season.   Bill Ross Director & Guide, Dancing Snow (Myoko, Niigata) www.dancingsnow.com   “I have used Mammut’s Pulse Barryvox for a while now, after using a variety of transceivers from the good old days of analogue devices. It’s just great—I used it during avalanche training, and literally found a target in a great big field in less than 30 seconds. Much easier and intuitive than in the past. The Pulse does take a little study to know all the functions, though, so I was really pleased to have the chance to try out the Element with our guests. Its simplicity doesn’t mean it is a dumbed-down version. Rather, in quick pre-tour briefings with guests I really felt that they understood the idea behind it, how it functions, and what to do if something did happen. Makes me feel safer, because I’m the first one to ski! And the reasonable price is also a real benefit for people who are already investing a lot in backcountry gear. A really nice, attractive package that I can completely recommend.   About Myoko The area around Mt. Myoko has a wide range of backcountry terrain, ideal for everyone from experienced skiers and boarders to those leaving the groomed runs and “sidecountry” for the first time. It’s serious snow country, though, so a transceiver is a requirement, as is proper gear, good group dynamics and knowledge of terrain and the possibilities of avalanches.   Dancing Snow Customer Feedback “The unit is very compact, and the straps keep it close to your body and out of the way. You’re not really aware that you have it on while you’re on the hill.”   “It’s really easy to figure out which way to search. All you have to do is follow the arrows and watch the distance figures go down.”   “I liked the way the display shows how many beacons are out there when you switch to search, and the way you can mark victims so the transceiver stops receiving from that person, and you can move on to the next.”   “It was my first time to use a transceiver, and it was very easy to understand how to use it. The switches and dials are also simple and clearly marked. I liked the fact that it was hard to accidently turn it off!’   “I’ve used other transceivers that are not as natural to switch from transmit to receive, or harder to use in an actual search. Very fast and accurate.”     Paul Vanderheiden Owner, Japow Tours (Hakkoda, Aomori) www.japowtours.com   “The Mammut Element is a three- antenna transceiver, which make it much faster than other beacon searches on the market.   I have been using different beacons for years and have tried many companies but Mammut has made great strides in the design and simplicity of their New Mammut Element. As a Guide I feel much safer knowing that the people in my group have a quality product and they are confident in using it even if its their first time with the Transceiver. Thank you Mammut for making such an amazing life saving device.”   About Hakkoda Tohoku’s Mt. Hakkoda is a backcountry playground attracting advanced skiers and snowboarders. A beacon is standard equipment for exploring these serious mountains, as is a knowledgeable guide.   Japow Tours Customers Feedback “The Mammut Element Barryvox transceiver is incredibly intuitive and even tells you to turn around if you are going the wrong direction with a simple U-Turn symbol”   “The simple on and off switch locks into place making each function secure and one confidant that he or she is sending or receiving the proper signal.”   “The harness and housing of the Mammut Element Barryvox is actually quite comfortable and allows for easy access the to transceiver itself”   “As an avid backcountry snowboarder the “Mutual burials function” is essential when traveling with larger groups.”   “When practicing with The Mammut Element Barryvox vs. my friends BCA Tracker the Element was picking up a signal and tracking at least 10 meters before the BCA Tracker.  When doing a speed search in the practice field, the Element Barryvox won every time.”   “The Mammut Element Barryvox 3 antenna system works faster and more fluid than other beacons I have had in the past, by far the best and easiest transceiver I have every used”  Mammut Online http://www.mammut.ch/ (Global Site) http://mammutstore.jp/ (Japan Site)