Japan is heating up at the end of 2010 with plans that will increase its international arrivals numbers as well as facilitate travel throughout the country. Travel Agent met with Shuichi Kameyama, executive director of the New York office for the Japan National Tourism Organization, who shed some light on the subject.
Most exciting, Japan's bullet train will be expanding in December 2010 and March 2011, making travel from the southernmost tip of the country to the northernmost possible in one fell swoop. In December the bullet train will connect to the city of Aomori, while the line will connect to the southern city of Kagoshima in March. Weekly rail passes are priced at $300, which makes travel both convenient and affordable.
Yesterday, October 21, also marked the opening of Haneda airport's new runway. Tokyo is home to two airports, Narita and Haneda. Haneda has mostly operated as a domestic airport but thanks to the new runway, it will begin accepting international flights as of October 31. ANA will operate nonstop service from Los Angeles and JAL will offer service from San Francisco, both nonstop. Delta is scheduled to fly out of Detroit as of January and American Airlines will operate a nonstop flight from New York's JFK. Haneda is just a short 13 minute trip into the center of Tokyo.
For travelers who come to Japan and want to take advantage of their time in Asia, Japan offers plenty of connectivity options. Haneda offers service to China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and more, while Narita has access to over 20 destinations in Asia. Visit Discover Asia Now here.
Kameyama tells Travel Agent that one of the most important things agents need to keep in mind is that Japan is not as expensive as it is made out to be. Budget hotels are available throughout the country, many in Tokyo's city center for under $100 per night. "The level of service in Japanese hotels is above that at other international destinations," Kameyama tells us. This means that even if a guest is paying a lower rate, they can still expect a level of service that generally comes with upper level hotels in other destinations.
"English has also greatly improved throughout the country," says Kameyama. English signs are throughout the country including its transportation systems, making it much easier for Americans to make their way around.