New bureau to open in April to boost tourism in Osaka

Kyodo

Officials in Osaka said Monday they will launch a bureau in April to boost tourism.

The office will handle the overall tourism strategy for the municipal and prefectural governments. Its first chief will be Kunio Kano, a former Hong Kong Tourism Board official.

The city and prefecture aim to attract 6.5 million tourists a year from overseas by 2020.

In 2011, 1.58 million foreign tourists visited Osaka Prefecture, declining from 2.35 million in 2010 due mostly to the March 2011 natural and nuclear disasters in the Tohoku region, according to the prefectural government.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Shigetaka Sato, chairman of the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, met Monday to finalize the decision.

They hope to tap into the marketing skills of Kano, 68, who dealt with Japan and South Korea as the Hong Kong board’s regional director of North Asia from 1995 to 2012.