Japanese travel agency H.I.S. to offer free tours -- online

30, Jul. 2020

China Joy 2019 (Photo from Twitter of China Joy 2019)
China Joy 2019 (Photo from Twitter of China Joy 2019)

TOKYO, NNA – Major Japanese travel agency H.I.S. Co. will offer online tours of overseas exhibitions via Zoom as the global COVID-19 pandemic restricts international movement.

The Tokyo-based tour organizer said Wednesday it will launch the multi-country service by broadcasting “China Joy 2020,” one of China’s largest digital entertainment exhibitions, during the event starting from Friday featuring online and console games.

H.I.S. staff will use the Zoom conferencing app to show exhibits at the site in Shanghai down to details such as measures at the venue entrance to prevent coronavirus infections. The travel agency has set a cap of 300 tourists and 127 people have expressed their interest in attending, the company said in a statement.

Actual exhibitions have resumed in China, which brought COVID-19 under control in March, though they’re still largely postponed or held entirely online elsewhere in the world.

H.I.S. hopes the tours help make up for business losses caused by the pandemic.

A spokesman for H.I.S said the free Zoom service will let businesses judge whether they should join overseas exhibitions scheduled for late 2020 or thereafter. Many Japanese companies have abandoned exhibitions in China due to travel restrictions sparked by the pandemic.

Last month the travel agency launched its “Rental HIS” service, where employees at offices in 70 countries and regions take business trips on behalf of customers. The company has received over 40 rental inquiries, the spokesman said.

The Japanese travel agency group posted an 8.9 percent year-on-year sales decrease to 344.3 billion yen ($3.3 billion) in the six months through April, suffering a net loss of 3.5 billion yen compared with a 5 billion yen net profit in the same period a year earlier. Nearly 90 percent of the group sales come from travel division, according to its financial statement.