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Japan – a country in training for the 2019 Rugby World Cup

14 May 2019
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Four months out from the opening game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as host nation – Japan is on track to deliver one of the most anticipated and talked about tournaments in the history of the series.

Catering to the needs of the 400,000+ international visitors expected to attend the first ever Rugby World Cup (RWC) to be hosted in an Asian country is no mean feat. At present significant projects are underway across the host cities to ensure infrastructure, accommodation and sporting facilities conform to the internationally recognised reputation of Japanese hospitality.

Planning for the tournament has been ongoing even predating the successful bid announced in 2009. While Japan is no stranger to tourism having hosted over 31 million international visitors in 2018 – maximizing enjoyment, satisfaction and positive experience of over 400,000 visitors as well as the participating teams over the 6-week period is not without its challenges.

 
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Kick off for the first game, Japan v Russia, takes place in Tokyo Stadium on 20 September officially opening the 44-day tournament, where 20 teams will contest 48 matches across the country in 12 host cities stretching from Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido to Kyushu in the southwest.  

As the 2019 edition of the tournament is the first to be held outside of a traditional rugby stronghold, it presents a unique opportunity for fans to follow the game to new places and take in some incredible experiences. Outside of tourist favourite Tokyo, there are a number of truly special places to visit including Yokohama, which will play host to the pick of the group stage games; New Zealand v South Africa on 21 September. As one of Japan’s first international trading locations, Yokohama enjoys the influence of outside cultures mixed with authentic Japanese fare. Despite having grown into one of the most futuristic looking cities in the world, Yokohama remains a popular place to visit owing to the fact that it has retained much of its history and culture.

Kamaishi, located in the country’s northeast will host Fiji v Uruguay on 25 September. A city showcasing its recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hopes to revitalize the region through the power of sport. And, Shizouka in the south east of the country welcomes the host nation as they take on one of the tournament favourites, Ireland on 28 September. Shizouka, famous for the beauty of Lake Ashi and the views of Mount Fuji is the perfect place to soak up some authentic Japanese culture for a few days ahead of the clash.

The tournament brings with it a welcome boost to the economy with estimates gauging a total output of around ¥437.2 billion (€3.49 Billion) translating into a contribution of ¥216.6 billion (€1.73 Billion) to national GDP.    

Despite some concerns over the weather, Japan is especially vulnerable to extreme weather in September, it is difficult to dampen the optimism that the tournament brings with it.  A recent report commissioned by Japan Rugby and undertaken by EY is estimating that the tournament will create 25,000 jobs and bring direct spend by visitors on items including hospitality, travel and accommodation to ¥105.7 billion (€844.75 Million)

This anticipated spend begs the question, are local merchants and retailers’ best prepared to accommodate and serve the expected volume of visitors?

While innovative in almost all areas of technology, Japan has been reluctant to relinquish the use of cash. Unlike the majority of western markets, hard cash is still the order of the day for Japanese followed closely by Credit and Debit Cards with a limited number of mobile wallet transactions. But what does that mean for the local merchant and indeed for their potential rugby-crazed customers?

Globally, international travelers rely more and more on credit and debit cards when making payments abroad. Critical to catering for the expected increase in these international visitors is in offering them transparent and convenient payment options by card.

Irish based international fintech Company, Fexco, has been partnered with Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos, Japan’s largest credit card acquirer, for 5 years providing Fexco’s Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) solution to merchants.

Pioneered by Fexco, DCC allows international cardholders to pay for goods or services in their home currency, a currency that is familiar to them and ata competitive exchange rate.

Merchants and retailers wishing to leverage the increase in tourists to Japan while simultaneously delivering the famed Japanese service to their guests can seamlessly integrate Fexco’s DCC solution without any changes to their daily processes

If you’d like more information on how DCC can benefit your guests and customers contact us today and ask about our suite of Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) products.

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