Hiroshima hits Singapore market with stronger promotions

A cuddly yellow bear has been tasked with flying Hiroshima’s flag in Singapore over the weekend, as the Japanese destination seeks to deepen its reach into the city-state’s outbound travel market.

Named Hirokuma, the mascot hosted a destination presentation and meet-and-greet on February 24 for more than 50 Singapore members of Facebook community group, Wanderers of Hiroshima, an initiative by the Hiroshima Tourism Association (HIT). The group now boasts over 2,500 members from all over Asia. Members are said to be travellers familiar with Hiroshima as well as those curious to discover more of the destination’s hidden gems.

Members of Hiroshima Tourism Association and mascot Hirokuma lead destination presentations in Singapore

In an interview with TTG Asia, Matsubara Kazuki, section chief of HIT’s International Tourism Department, said the Saturday event was the organisation’s first face-to-face interaction with Wanderers of Hiroshima’s Singapore members. Attendees got to learn more about the destination and local F&B products.

Kazuki said Hirokuma’s first public appearance at a Japan travel fair in Singapore last October was a hit, and that encouraged HIT to leverage the mascot’s popularity to raise Hiroshima’s destination profile among Singapore travellers.

HIT will also rely on the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) to further raise destination awareness. The JNTO Singapore office recently spearheaded an initiative that followed a Singaporean couple who explored Hiroshima’s fun and romantic facets and introduced their experiences through social media. The campaign, titled Dreamlike Trip for 2 across Hiroshima and San’in, featured coastal drives along the Shimanami Coast, a stay at luxury hotel Azumi Setoda, and an oyster farm tour plus feast, among many other things.

While JNTO collaborations for 2024 are still being discussed, Singapore travellers can expect more motivations to visit Hiroshima soon.

Kazuki revealed that an airfare promotion with All Nippon Airways will soon commence. The campaign will allow Singapore residents to enjoy special fares when they book flights from Singapore to Hiroshima via Tokyo Haneda International Airport and choose to begin their exploration of Japan in Hiroshima.

Plans are also underway to establish a physical space where Singapore residents can purchase Hiroshima’s famed products, such as okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) ingredients, and be inspired to visit the destination.

Kazuki said Hiroshima has many aspects that are yet unknown to Singapore travellers, such as the prefecture’s varied local cuisine and affiliation with popular manga and anime titles. Landmarks that appeared in Slam Dunk, a hit basketball-themed manga and anime series, as well as Ponyo, an animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, are located in Hiroshima.

HIT’s latest promotions in Singapore follows on the heels of the organisation’s move to intensify marketing across Asia last year, which saw it pushing adventure tourism opportunities and its Seto islands.

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