If the thousands of people lined up on opening day of Sumida Ward's hottest new landmark are any indication, Tokyo Skytree will be a big hit--and just what the nation needs to boost the economy.
Japan is hoping to attract tourists from South Korea and other Asian countries to the world's tallest broadcast tower, also home to a complex that houses an aquarium, planetarium and hundreds of shops and restaurants.
“I hope Tokyo Skytree will serve as a major base of tourism (in the Tokyo area),” Takeshi Maeda, tourism minister, told reporters at a May 22 news conference, the day the tower officially opened to the public.
The Japan Tourism Agency hopes to see an increase of tourists from South Korea, whose numbers have recently dropped due to the weakened won and concerns following last year's Great East Japan Earthquake.
The number of South Korean visitors to Japan from January to March this year dropped about 20 percent to some 490,000 from the same period in 2010.
With about 60 percent of the tourists from South Korea being repeat visitors, the agency expects the 634-meter tall Tokyo Skytree to prompt a rebound of such tourists revisiting Japan.
"Although Westerners love the traditional aspects of Japan, Asians like the urban aspects of our country,” said a Japan Tourism Agency official. “Tokyo Skytree meets our public relations strategy.”
On May 20, the agency invited a major South Korean television station to film at Skytree. The agency said the station plans to run an information program in South Korea about Tokyo and Tokyo Skytree on repeated broadcasts beginning at the end of the month.
The agency also plans to invite travel agencies from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and help them create tour plans featuring Tokyo Skytree.
The Japan National Tourism Organization has also been promoting Tokyo Skytree on Facebook and other sites.
“Skytree will provide a good reason to visit Tokyo,” an official said.
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