National

After quake, Hokkaido tourist sites promote safety of winter events

JIJI

Tourist sites in Hokkaido are coming up with creative solutions to bring foreign visitors back to their events this winter — the busiest season of the year — while also promoting safety.

Three months have passed since a massive earthquake shook the region on Sept. 6. While there has been an improvement in consumption by foreign visitors, which saw a steep plunge after the earthquake, a tourism industry official said that the levels have yet to reach those seen in a normal year.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the number of passengers on international flights at New Chitose Airport since the start of this year had been growing at levels 10-20 percent higher than comparable figures a year earlier. In September, however, the number dropped by 21 percent, before falling 9 percent in October.

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government is continuing to implement measures to attract more visitors, hoping to push up the number of tourists from both inside and outside the nation to around the 56.1 million recorded in fiscal 2017.

The number of passengers on flights to or from South Korea declined greatly, with the number in October being only 74 percent that seen last year.

In November, the Hakodate Municipal Government invited three popular South Korean bloggers to the city, a popular destination among South Korean people, for a tour to see morning markets and the view from Mount Hakodate at night.

An official from the Hakodate Municipal Government emphasized that the city’s infrastructure and facilities are “fine.”

Events that illuminate Shirogane Blue Pond and Shirahige Waterfalls, both tourist attractions located in the town of Biei, central Hokkaido, started on Nov. 1.

The organizer of the events is holding bus tours between December this year and around March next year for visitors to appreciate a magical world of snow and light.

In a new event at Kingxmhu, a dance club located in Sapporo’s entertainment district of Susukino, staff members dressed as ninja and oiran courtesans serve sake.

According to the club, it has placed several English-speaking staff at the facility to prepare for possible aftershocks and blackouts.

“While I was worried about the earthquake, I knew it would be fine as the speed of reconstruction is fast in Japan,” said a 25-year-old South Korean woman who visited the club as part of a company trip.

She added that Sapporo’s illuminations are “beautiful.”

Hayato Sasaki, head of the club, said that it was doing business under a slogan of security and safety. He voiced hopes that the club will become a reason for people from both Japan and abroad to visit Sapporo.