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Friday, Oct. 12, 2012
Retailers wooing financial delegates
By MIZUHO AOKI
Shopping districts within walking distance of the main venues of this week's International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Tokyo are offering special events and promotions to entice foreigners, who have traveled to the talks from more than 100 countries.
"This has been a great opportunity for us to get together and think of ways to welcome foreign visitors not only for the annual meetings but also for a much longer span," Nariyuki Kameoka, deputy executive director of Ginza Street Association, told The Japan Times. "We really want foreign visitors to see and enjoy Ginza. We want to make a good impression on them."
The association, comprising 34 shopping mall and neighborhood associations in the Ginza district of Chuo Ward, set up a "concierge desk" near JR Yurakucho Station staffed by fluent English and Chinese speakers to provide information. About 140 people visited the desk Monday and Tuesday, the association said.
It also printed up 50,000 copies of an 18-page English guidebook about events happening during the week. The guidebook is available at the main venues of the annual meetings — the Tokyo International Forum and the Imperial Hotel — as well as other hotels and the information desk at Narita airport.
Between Friday and Sunday, the association plans to offer a special lunch that includes a dance performance by Shimbashi geisha for ¥20,000 per person, as well as a kabuki performance put on by children Saturday at Taimei Elementary School. Thirty bars in the district are offering special cocktails for ¥1,500 during the week, the association said.
Kameoka said that the association has never targeted foreign travelers with special deals.
"Each shop has been trying to welcome foreign travelers, but we never did such a thing as a neighborhood," Kameoka said. "To be honest, we have no idea how many will actually turn up to all the events. But by preparing the best we can now, we hope to turn this experience into a trial run for the future."