TOKYO, Japan – Magnet Tours, the first and only tour operator in Japan focused on the LGBT market, today joined the growing chorus of voices from pop star Lady Gaga to senior tourism officials in proclaiming that Japan is open and ready for business.
All believe that tourism will be an important part of Japan’s recovery and a way to strengthen the country’s economy, just as tourism played an important role in New Orleans’ recovery following Hurricane Katrina.
On March 11, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan followed by a powerful tsunami. The tsunami and earthquake additionally caused damage to a nuclear reactor complex. Although the disaster more than three months ago had some initial impact on transportation and other services in a more widespread area, today life has returned to normal for most Japanese outside of the very small disaster area in northern Japan.
Lady Gaga has been vocal recently about supporting Japan. The gay icon, who is currently in the country and will be performing at the MTV Video Music Aid Japan event on Saturday, June 25, recently encouraged fans in an interview with the metro.us news site: “Go to Japan …continue to support the relief efforts but know that it’s only 0.1% of the country that was affected and that we’re doing more harm to Japan by staying away then by going. Enjoy their beautiful cities and landscapes. Always looking forward and not looking back, never operating from a place of fear.”
Magnet Tours officials said gay and lesbian travelers can play an important role in Japan’s post-disaster recovery.
“Gay and lesbian travelers are leaders and trailblazers,” said Yuka Iwasaki, president of Magnet Tours. “We’d like to invite LGBT travelers from all over the world to spend their next vacation in Japan enjoying our rich history, fascinating culture and thriving gay nightlife. Not only will they have a great time but they also be helping our nation’s economic recovery.”
Japanese tourism and political officials have also expressed that Japan is ready to welcome tourists to their country.
“Outside of the areas affected by the disaster, residents are living their lives as usual, and the beauty of these tourist destinations remains unchanged,” said Tadatoshi Mamiya, president of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). “Food is also inspected and controlled by strict guidelines so they can be consumed safely. For the travelers who have visited Japan, they have been satisfied with their experience, they have said that they are glad that they visited Japan, and they are certain that they would like to come again.”
Tokyo’s Governor, Shintaro Ishihara, also recently issued a statement saying that “Tokyo suffered very little direct damage from this disaster … It’s business as usual here in Tokyo … there are no problems with the water, air, food, public transport and other urban functions, and public safety here remains as high as it has ever been.”
As part of its effort to welcome LGBT tourists back to Japan, Magnet Tours recently participated in the 2011 International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Global Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in May, where they met with travel agents, tour operators and other tourism executives from around the world.
“We were thrilled to be a part of the 2011 IGLTA Global Convention and make wonderful connections. It was important for our contacts and colleagues to understand that although Japan experienced a natural disaster, our country is back to normal and opening its arms to international visitors,” Iwasaki said.
Gay and lesbian travelers interested in learning more about Japan prior to a trip there can tune into the gay travel series “Bump!” in July and August for two new episodes featuring Tokyo and Kyoto. “Bump!” is the world’s first gay and lesbian travel and lifestyle television series, airing on LOGO in the U.S. and OUTtv in Canada. To help celebrate Bump’s 100th episode – and its first Asia episodes – the television series went to Japan and experienced the stylish and exciting metropolis of Tokyo, along with the beautiful temples, history and culture of Kyoto. Episodes will premiere in the U.S. on LOGO on July 27 and Aug. 3.
About Magnet Tours
Magnet Tours was founded in 2009, and is the first tour operator in Japan to cater specifically to LGBT travelers. Magnet Tours is gay owned and operated, and its staff has more than 40 years of combined experience in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Magnet Tours fills a void in the market for gay and lesbian vacations to Japan, and works closely with local venues to ensure they are friendly to gay and lesbian travelers.
For more information on Magnet Tours, visit HERE.