The Kochi Prefectural Government has joined hands with travel and fitness companies in Singapore to roll out hybrid tours for FIT and interest groups to drum up awareness and interest in the southern coastal region of Japan’s Shikoku.
In collaboration with Singapore’s Royal Wings Travel, two 7D6N free-and-easy tours have been developed to encourage in-depth exploration of the east and west regions of Kochi.
These unguided itineraries, which can be tweaked according to customer preferences, include three-star hotel reservations, train tickets and a handy travel guidebook detailing recommended routes, local businesses and attractions, as well as maps and tourist information.
The tours will be launched at the Experience Kochi travel and food fair taking place from October 18 to 27 at Harbourfront Centre, and sold by agencies Pegasus Travel Management, Siam Express and JOYOJ.
Takanori Asai, deputy director of the Kochi Representative Office in Singapore, explained that international trips in Kochi have traditionally been limited to a day or two as part of a wider Japan itinerary.
However, the massive shift towards free-and-easy travel, particularly among repeat tourists to Japan, has opened a window of opportunity for the prefecture and travel agents in search of lesser-known destinations.
Diana Ho, general manager of Royal Wings Travel, said: “Since free-and-easy travel is so popular now, we decided to create a tour that can meet the demands of our customers, and also allow us travel agents to add value with our planning expertise.”
Kochi has also worked with H.I.S. Travel Singapore to develop a mono-destination itinerary, as well as boutique fitness service provider ABCDE Fitness on a package that includes flights, accommodation at the new Mont Bell Mountain Lodge, warm-up sessions with a local running group, passes for the Kochi Ryoma Marathon in February 2020, private tours and workshops, and a dinner party with local residents.
Such creative collaborations are essential to attracting travellers today, said Asai. “It has become really hard to promote a destination through traditional means. So we have had to come up with new ways to promote Kochi,” he said. “If our efforts are successful, it is possible to have Experience Kochi events in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand as well.