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RWC team welcomes, hospitality sales exceed expectations
Written by Sterling Content
September 13, 2019
Excitement is building for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 as the national teams arrived in cities across Japan this week to an exceedingly warm welcome. The high interest in Asia’s first RWC is also reflected in the uptake of travel and hospitality packages, with sales to date exceeding expectations, according to RWC exclusive official hospitality and supporter tour provider STH Japan.
Cities put out the red carpet
Not even the after-effects of Typhoon Fazai could dampen the mood as teams were met with wonderful receptions across Japan ahead of the kick-off on September 20. The country’s reputation for unrivalled hospitality was in evidence, and organisers promised the welcome is only the first part of the unique omotenashi treatment to extend to teams and fans during the tournament.
In Kitakyushu, the Wales team were received with a rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau by a local all-Japanese choir. Meanwhile, in Kashiwa, near Tokyo, schoolchildren performed a Haka for the arriving All Blacks.
In Kagoshima, which hosted the South Africa team’s pre-camp this week, some 6,000 residents turned out to watch the Springboks’ training in a packed stadium. After the action, representatives presented the team with gifts of the prefecture’s renowned produce, including black pork, wagyu beef, tuna and mangoes.
“The people of Kagoshima have been amazing,” said Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.
BCCJ member Kagoshima Prefectural Tourism Bureau said the Springboks’ experience reflects the “warm hospitality, delicious cuisine and friendly people that await visitors to the southern Kyushu prefecture.”
Building on the welcome activity for all teams so far, Team Welcome Ceremonies will be held across Japan from 13-19 September.
Boost to the hospitality sector
With the promise of a stunning tournament combining top class rugby and a chance to experience all that Japan has to offer across 12 host cities, sales of official travel and hospitality packages are breaking records.
According to figures released by BCCJ member STH Japan, the official travel programme has exceeded all initial targets, with more than 132,000 tickets sold to fans seeking “an all-inclusive experience and a once-in-a-lifetime blend of Japanese culture and world-class rugby.”
The announcement is a boost to the country’s fledgling sports hospitality sector as well as regional tourism.
Australia tops the list of international fans to attend with more than 35,000 ticket-inclusive travel packages via the STH Japan programme, followed by France and the UK at 20,000 each and Japan at 18,000.
STH Japan CEO Simon Jefford said: “We are very excited and extremely proud of having the opportunity to introduce the concept of sports hospitality to Japan and of course provide a unique Rugby World Cup hospitality experience in Asia for the first time. We still have availability for some great matches, including two Japan matches and the final, so fans should book now to secure their place.”
More than 90% of the 1.8m available tickets to the RWC have now been sold and demand continues to be strong as fans look to snap-up the final few tickets.
Fan zones across the country are also preparing for record numbers of visitors keen to soak up the atmosphere via the rugby-related activities and local food and drink on offer.