NORTH WOODSTOCK, NH -- Non-stop flights from Tokyo landing daily in Boston are bringing Japanese tourists to New England and opening a new tourism market for New Hampshire.
"This flight lands at near capacity every day and they are eager to explore as much of the region as possible," said Jayne O'Connor, president of White Mountains Attractions, which markets the region.
White Mountains Attractions will take part in a Japan sales mission next month, with a representative traveling to Tokyo on Feb. 3 for five days of seminars to learn about the travel culture and meet with tour operators there.
"Since those daily flights began last April, we have been seeing more and more Japanese tourists coming to the White Mountains," O'Connor said. "Our goal in traveling to Japan is to introduce ourselves to tourism officials and ensure the White Mountains has a strong presence on tour itineraries."
This effort will complement work with the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, which has hired a representative to make connections with travel professionals in Japan. Discover New England, an organization that promotes the northeast internationally, is also involved in the marketing effort to the Far East.
"The increase in Asian travelers over the past few years has been very noticeable," O'Connor said. "There is a potential to unlock a large market that, for now, has been sending group tours here. But as our region becomes better known in Japan, we expect more individuals traveling and exploring and we need to be ready for them."
As the region becomes established as a destination, there is a potential for communities to see some economic benefits, according to O'Connor.
"Last year, Massachusetts reported Japanese tourism spending totaled about $78 million," she said. "The average per person, per trip is $3,500 and because the cost of travel and shopping is higher there, making the U.S. very attractive to them."
While the 2011 earthquake that struck the nation caused a drop in travel, a campaign to encourage them to resume travel is expected to increase overseas tourism by about 5 percent.
"We expect that the White Mountains will become a particular destination for the Japanese because they enjoy outlet shopping, visiting state and national park areas, and taking in museums and historical buildings," O'Connor said. "They prefer being active and like to see as many places as they can. Skiing, hiking, rail excursions, gourmet dining and even moose watching have a real appeal to them. The White Mountains has all of that in an area that can be easily visited over the course of their vacations."
White Mountains Attractions Association, founded in 1958, is the marketing association for the region, and its 16 major attractions, including Attitash Mountain Resort, Cannon Mountain, Clark’s Trading Post, the Conway Scenic Railroad, Flume Gorge, the Hobo Railroad, Loon Mountain, Lost River Gorge, Mount Washington Auto Road, the Mt. Washington Cog Railroad, Polar Caves, Santa’s Village, Six Gun City, Story Land, Whale’s Tale Water Park and Wildcat Mountain. For more information, call 800-346-3687 or visit www.VisitWhiteMountains.com.