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DESTINATION | Osaka, JAPAN PHOTO CREDIT: OSAKA CONVENTION & TOURISM BUREAU 22 JAN-FEB 2018 meetings & conventions • With a gross regional product (GRP) of US$359bn – comparable to the economic output of countries like Singapore, Switzerland, and Taiwan – Osaka's economic clout is unquestionable. But the city, affectionately nicknamed "The Nation's Kitchen", is also famous for its gastronomical delights, nightlife, and Words Brooke Thio WHY GO? Building on a host of business globalisation projects and infrastructural developments, Osaka is all set to accelerate its growth in the MICE industry. Osaka turns on the heat venues, hotels, and DMCs. The results came in 2016, when Osaka achieved a record year of international events bringing in over 400,000 visitors to the city. In addition to being a regional leader in the medical, pharmaceutical, and battery-related energy industries, Osaka is also leveraging on its strong sporting culture to garner sports industry conferences and exhibitions – a timely move since Japan is set to host major international sports events for three years in a row from 2019 to 2021, including the Kansai World Masters Games 2021. "With the launch of Osaka-Kansai Sports MICE alliance last December, we have enjoyed increasing members joining the alliance," says Hiroshi Mizohata, President, Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau. "As Osaka has long been known as a centre for medicine, we hope to provide greater value for incentive tours through our new Osaka Wellness Tourism platform, which centres experiences around health, spa, and beauty programmes." To woo MICE groups, the city is offering extensive support for event planners such as conference design, obtaining convention rates and subsidies for venues and accommodation, and securing local entertainment. friendly locals, making it a natural choice for meetings and conferences. To differentiate itself from other attractive MICE destinations, Osaka has been building public-private sector partnerships like the Osaka MICE Business Alliance to present a stronger, united front when it comes to competing for business. To date, the alliance has 180 member organisations representing Osaka's famous food street in Dotonbori "As Osaka has long been known as a centre for medicine, we hope to provide greater value for incentive tours through our new Osaka Wellness Tourism platform ..." – HIROSHI MIZOHATA, PRESIDENT, OSAKA CONVENTION & TOURISM BUREAU FAST FACTS • Kansai International Airport completed the expansion of its Terminal 2 in January 2017, becoming the first airport in Japan to implement IATA's Smart Security system and boosting international passenger capacity to 2.85 million passengers a year. • In April 2017, the opening of Nakanoshima Festival Tower West marked the completion of Nanakoshima Festival City – Japan's tallest twin tower development comprising offices, restaurants, the Festival Hall concert hall, and the new 164-room Conrad Osaka Hotel which opened in June. • The UMEKITA Phase 2 development in the Umeda area conference zone north of Osaka Station, is expected to be completed in 2024 with an 8-hectare green space with large-scale MICE facilities. 10 proposals for the project have already been shortlisted.

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