This year’s edition of the yearly World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Travel & Tourism Summit was held Las Vegas, Nevada. Next year, Tokyo, Japan, is set to be the host and has sent a strong message that it still intends to do so by sending a high-level delegation to this year’s gathering of some of the most influential people in travel and tourism.
If the events of March 11, 2011, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated Northern Japan, left some wondering whether Tokyo is fit to host next year’s WTTC summit, Japan not only showed that the resounding answer is yes, but had some humbling lessons to share at this year’s summit. The Japanese delegation was led by Asutoshi Nishida, chairman of Toshiba and chairman of the Tokyo 2012 Host Committee, and Mutsutake Otsuka, chairman of East Japan Railway Company and vice chairman of the Tokyo 2012 Host Committee.
An entire session was dedicated at this year’s summit to “powering recovery in Japan.” That session was hosted by WTCC CEO and president David Scowsill and attended by both Mr. Nishida and Mr. Otsuka. The Japanese delegation leaders both reflected on the events of March 11, 2011 and in doing so shared some amazing discoveries and lessons about Japan and its people (both in Japan and overseas).
For Mr. Nishida, the lessons were very specific: “Japan must give full support to worst-case scenarios and prepare for unexpected events. Secondly, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for both material support and the long messages that we received from the international community. … I felt that the nations of the world have truly become global citizens. We received support from 130 countries and regions and also nearly 40 international organizations. … Thirdly, I like the way the deep invasion of strength of the Japanese people. I couldn’t help but be impressed and moved by the orderly behavior of the people … immediately after the tsunami.”
However, the Toshiba chairman expressed that he was most surprised by a new discovery: “The strength of the bond between Japanese both in Japan and also overseas – this is a tremendous. I felt an enormous pride and respect for the people of Japan because of the way the people of Japan showed themselves to the world.”
He added, “With the strength of the bond between Japanese people and the support of the international community, Japan will surely recover and will be fine.”
Mr. Nishida and Mr. Otsuka both lamented that the media has inaccurately depicted the Japan earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis. “The amount of the radioactive released by the (Fukushima I Nuclear Power) plant is only 10 percent from that of the Chernobyl accident,” Mr. Nishida said, “There is absolutely no problem with … tourism.”
The Toshiba chairman further noted that Japan tourism suffered a negative impact, and dispelled notions claiming that it is unsafe to travel to Japan.
At the closing ceremony of this year’s summit, WTTC and the Japanese delegation were unanimous in proclaiming that Tokyo will host the 2012 Global Travel & Tourism Summit on April 17 to 19.