TTGassociations Publications January 2019 - Page 21

sh Japan’s current meetings magnet Fukuoka is winning major association gatherings and the reasons why are clear, writes Kathryn Wortley F tion, which had 38,000 pax. In 2017 and 2018, Fukuoka continued to attract significant association groups, thus boosting its reputation. Wins include the International Congress and Convention Association’s Association Meetings Programme; the 16 th Intelligent Transport Systems Asia-Pacific Forum, which had 5,519 pax from 27 countries; and the International Society for Profes- sional Innovation Management Connects Fukuoka 2018 conference. The latter was especially important ac- cording to Kenny Macphie, spokesperson of the Fukuoka Convention Visitors Bu- reau (FCVB), as it “is a very sought-after conference because it brings interesting and influential speakers.” Fukuoka also secured the 2019 meet- ing of EVO Sports, a console gaming ukuoka is ramping up efforts to attract association groups as it builds on its strong position as a city for business and association events, laying plans to improve facili- ties, infrastructure, access, activities and services within the next five years. Since it was designated one of Japan’s five global strategic cities for business events by the Japan Tourism Agency in 2013, Fukuoka has become an increas- ingly strong contender in securing international pitches. In 2016, it was ranked second in Japan, after Tokyo, for the number of international conferences held, with 383 in total, an increase of 20 year-on-year. In the same year, the city also scooped first place for attracting the largest international convention in Japan, the 99 th Lions Club International Conven- organisation, whose meeting was held for the first time in Japan, in 2018. Further growth in the number and calibre of association events can be ex- pected, according to the trade. Shigeru Yamamoto, general manager of KNT-CT Global Travel Co., told TTGassociations that he is receiving “more enquiries than ever before about Fukuoka” for association meetings. He attributed the boost in interest to the large number of direct flights from Asian cities, proximity from the airport to the city centre, and hotels of varying price points. Yamamoto’s clients also noted the ef- forts of the FVCB to support association events, and the compact nature of the city, which enables guests to “enjoy both daytime and night-time activities with ease.” Macphie agrees that the FCVB’s com- prehensive support has been instrumen- tal in the city’s rising popularity among association meeting planners. “We help arrange things like unique party venues (such as turning a shopping arcade into a large street party) and give language and financial support (subven- tions) to international conferences,” he said. Fukuoka has also been successful in securing academic association meetings thanks to Kyushu University, which aims to be “the core of an academic research city built on cooperation among industry, government and academia”. The facilities in its new west-Fukuoka campus are proving popular with confer- ences. Another deciding factor for planners is the city’s variety of professional meeting rooms and exhibition halls. Inside the Fukuoka Conference Zone, the Marine Messe exhibition space boasts 8,000m 2 , the Fukuoka Kokusai Center exhibition space is 5,000m 2 and the multi-purpose International Congress Center’s main hall comprises 1,300m 2 and 20 conference rooms. By 2021, a 5,000m 2 exhibition space and two 400-pax capacity meeting rooms will be added to the conference zone. A MICE Vibrancy Zone under devel- opment in the waterfront area will give the city a further boost. Work includes the construction of new venues, hotels and convention facilities as well as the revitalisation of existing ones. The goal is to make it easier for event guests to walk between all venues that are part of their visit. It is expected that this zone will particularly appeal to planners that prioritise environmental and health con- siderations. Fukuoka is adding on to its dedicated Conference Zone with a waterfront development that will bring even more venues, hotels and convention space to the city