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Movers + Shakers: Nagano Tourism adds Helen Wong as first-ever Aussie rep

One of Japan’s most famous winter destinations, Nagano, has appointed renowned travel industry figure Helen Wong as its first-ever Australian representative.

One of Japan’s most famous winter destinations, Nagano, has appointed renowned travel industry figure Helen Wong as its first-ever Australian representative.

With the move, the Nagano Tourism Organization will be hoping to further boost awareness of the destination and Aussie travel to the Japanese alpine region through strategic marketing and public relations. 

Not that the region has a low profile Down Under. 

In fact, Australia is the number one source market among English-speaking countries for international arrivals, while Australia ranks third among all markets, just behind nearby Taiwan and Hong Kong, based on overnight stays, the most recent tourism statistics show. This places Australia ahead of markets like China, South Korea, Singapore, the US and the UK.

Mountain ski resort Shiga Kogen, Nagano
Ski resort Shiga Kogen

Nevertheless, the region feels there’s even more room for growth in the Australian market.

To kick start its new era in marketing Down Under, the region will present a 30-minute webinar on Nagano Prefecture on 27 February (12pm AEST). Register for the event here.

Along with its winter sports, Nagano is probably most famous for its Jigokudani Monkey Park, where Japanese macaques (the cute ‘snow monkeys’ that grace many a postcard) bathe in hot springs. But Nagano also boasts plenty of temples, great food and colourful festivals. 

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Nagano
Nagano’s Jigokudani Monkey Park

Billed the Rooftop of Japan, the region also hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 1998.

Helen Wong brings 45 years’ of experience in global tourism to the new role, having also represented the Macao Government Tourism Office and the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Commission.

In addition to this, Wong has her own travel and events business.   

“It’s an honour to be representing this breathtaking, naturally gifted corner of Japan,” Wong said.

Nakayama Plateau, Nagano
Nakayama Plateau, Nagano

“Nagano has so much to offer with a great number of Australians already familiar with the ski fields, national parks, hot springs and, of course, the Jigokudani Monkey Park.

“However, there’s a lot more to the region which needs to be highlighted in attracting newcomers and further building on the already impressive figures.”

Despite its delayed reopening post-pandemic – or perhaps because of it, as people rushed back to what had been a burgeoning destination among Australians before 2020 – Japan welcomed almost as many Aussies in 2023 as it did in 2019.