Japan’s tsunami recovery plans – why international associations have a key role to play
20 February 2012
ICCA recently organised a series of seminars for their members in Japan, and on a free day ICCA CEO Martin Sirk and a group of fellow ICCA member lecturers visited one of the areas most badly hit by last year’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The largest city in this region, Sendai, was spared a direct hit, but many outlying areas between the coast and the city were devastated.
Meeting with city officials and tourism chiefs and touring the region, it was clear that not only was the initial clean up near completion and the recovery in full swing (including Sendai’s airport – looking totally spotless), with investment pouring in to take advantage of new construction opportunities, but there is an ambitious – actually, inspirational - strategy in place to turn Sendai into the most well-designed, disaster-proofed city on the planet.
Linked to this, Sendai was in the midst of attracting a host of international association meetings: on civic disaster preparedness and communication; on specialist engineering and water management; on earthquake science; on financial and reconstruction issues. It was humbling to hear how this city has literally turned disaster into a development opportunity for itself, and a learning opportunity to be shared with cities and scientists around the globe.
One of the first organisations to be hosted later this year is the World Travel & Tourism Council, the trade association for the world’s largest companies in this field, and Sendai hopes this will provide a unique platform to communicate the positive message of how it, and Japan as a whole, are not only recovering remarkably fast, but that for tourists and meetings it is actually business as usual.
ICCA CEO Martin Sirk says: "The message for any association thinking about meeting in Japan is simple: don’t hesitate, visit the country and see for yourself. I can tell you from first-hand experience that you won’t be disappointed."
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