In this issue

A chance to learn and become stronger

Katerina Setunska of CzechTourism explains why the current situation gives us an opportunity to learn and then rebuild after the lockdown

Video: Gateway to the regions

When we want a taste of freedom, we grab a friend, a backpack and a tent and go for a hike.

21 things to do in the Czech Republic in 2021

CzechTourism is encouraging travellers to Plan Today, Czech In 2021 by creating a guide to the top 21 things to do in the Czech Republic

Spa trek: relaxation in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has been attracting wellness travellers for centuries and its spa traditions are among the oldest in Europe

Welcome

Editor’s letter; more on the new-look digital edition; plus, how to get in touch

Welcome

Editor’s letter; more on the new-look digital edition; plus, how to get in touch

Welcome and map

Introducing The ABTA Magazine Guide to Sapporo; plus, find your way around and get in touch

A destination like no other

Thanks to its varied climate, mellow natural surrounds, distinctive food culture and access to the countryside, Sapporo is unique

Video: Cinematic City Sapporo

The many attractions of Sapporo, such as the various seasons, the look of the town and its food are captured here.

Olympian efforts

Delving into Sapporo’s Olympic tradition and sporting history

Art and nature

Sapporo is packed with carefully manicured parks, city centre galleries and outdoor installations

Video: Welcoming Symphony

Performed by one of the most renowned orchestras in Japan, this piece introduces the charm of Sapporo along with the passing of the four seasons

Culinary capital

Ask a dozen Japanese what words come to mind when they think of Sapporo and “food” will invariably near the top of the list

A potted history

From native Ainu settlements to the 21st century city of today

Winter wonderland

There are six ski resorts within the city limits, plus plenty of other snow business

Welcome

Introducing the new-look digital edition; plus, how to get in touch

Calendar

Publishing schedule and forward features list

Audience

Reader data and survey

Promotions

Rate card and advertising opportunities

Promotion: Waterfront Publishing
Promotion

A chance to learn and become stronger

Katerina Setunska of CzechTourism explains why the current situation gives us an opportunity to learn and then rebuild after the lockdown


From the cobbled streets of Prague Old Town to the dense forests of Šumava National Park, the spas of Karlovy Vary and, of course, the world’s best beer, the Czech Republic offers wonders in abundance. With its beguiling capital just a two-hour flight from the UK, it makes perfect sense as a first post-lockdown destination for Britons to visit.

We spoke to Katerina Setunska, trade manager at CzechTourism UK & Ireland, about how the tourist board is working with travel agents during these troubling times – and what Czech attractions she’s most looking forward to returning to.

How are you reassuring the trade during this time?
The most important thing for us is the safety of the tourists and visitors coming back to the Czech Republic – that is above all. When the time is right we will be more than happy to welcome everyone again. To lighten the atmosphere we have teamed up with Czech partners and focused on a promotion aimed at armchair travellers to experience “a taste of the Czech Republic” from the comfort of their own homes amid the current quarantine. For that, we have launched a B2C campaign called  Virtual Czech, with the hashtags #VirtualCzech and #CheersFromCzech. On May 7, we are also aiming to bring the biggest ever Mic Czech event the travel industry has ever experienced. See our Facebook page for more info at facebook.com/czechrepublic.

What was your favourite moment with the trade in 2019?
In 2019, we launched our second course on Online Travel Training (OTT) targeted at the LGBT segment, mainly promoting the three biggest cities – Prague, Brno and Ostrava – as destinations open to all while partnering with Prague Pride, one of the largest cultural events in Prague since 2011. We have also launched our first virtual fam trip, VFam, taking absolutely everyone who is interested on an exciting six-day journey through regions of the Czech Republic.

Non-digital favourite moments include a spa and golf fam trip taking place in the west of Bohemia and a Travel Trade Roadshow that introduced 12 Czech trade partners to the trade in London, Manchester and Dublin.

While they can’t visit, how can the trade find out more about the Czech Republic?
We’re focusing on digital marketing at the moment as the situation changes every minute. We’re polishing our e-learning tools and making sure they stay fresh, updated and informative for anyone who wants to keep up.

Webinars are another way of effectively communicating with the trade; today we’ve had one with AITO, introducing Czech regions and some of its hidden secrets, such as efficient public transport, local regional gastronomy, wine and beer trails, and mountain biking (single-tracks), plus our marketing themes for 2021 and beyond. These include a continuation of the trend of sustainable tourism marketing, working with regional partners and promoting the local authentic experiences and the unique traditions of the destination.

How is the Czech tourism board preparing for the post-lockdown world?
We’re preparing for the new business environment to come as much as we can. That means we have to be ready to face new challenges and able to adapt quickly. We have to take into account the uncertainty and new safety precautions.

As much as the current situation is extremely devastating, it gives us a chance to learn and become stronger. Speaking of the situation in the Czech Republic, domestic tourism is now expected to pop up over the coming weeks. Working with our PR agency AM+A Marketing & Media Relations has also helped boost our brand message and online engagement. By utilising their creativity we’ve done some brilliant online marketing activities with third-party partners.

Which Czech attractions are you most looking forward to visiting?
Hiking in Šumava National Park, having a glass of local white wine in one of the South Moravian wine cellars or an evening stroll through the Old Town in Prague are some of my most favourite things to do in the Czech Republic.

Why should the Czech Republic be the first place Britons visit?
The main reasons are its great accessibility and position as a short-distance destination; its high-quality, low-cost services; its  extremely efficient public transport systems and great accommodation; the wealth of regional attractions with options for both summer and winter; and, of course, we still have the best beer in the world.

E-learning
czechrepublictraining.co.uk
czechrepubliclgbt.co.uk
vfam.spinningglobe.com

More information
visitczechrepublic.com
Facebook: @czechrepublic.eu
Instagram: @visitcz
Twitter: @czechtourism_uk

© CzechTourism – Image Bank, Photo: UPVISION

Video: Gateway to the regions

Read More
Promotion

21 things to do in the Czech Republic in 2021

CzechTourism is encouraging travellers to Plan Today, Czech In 2021 by creating a guide to the top 21 things to do in the Czech Republic this year. CzechTourism hopes to provide some travel inspiration for the new year from exploring Prague on a shoestring with the Prague Unlocked discount scheme to heading off the beaten track to discover the Czech Republic’s EDEN locations.

1. Charming castles and curious chateaux
In 2021, CzechTourism will be showcasing lesser-known castles and chateaux around the Czech Republic. We all know how spectacular the likes of Prague Castle and Karlstejn are, but there are over 200 unique regal locations to be uncovered off the beaten track, from the ‘open-air textbook of architecture’ Hradec Kralove to the delicate flower gardens of Kromeriz.

2. Wonderful ‘workcations’, a new normal we can get behind
One thing Covid-19 has taught us is that the need to be in an office every day from 9-5 is not as necessary as it seems. In need of a change of scenery from your office / bedroom hybrid? The Czech Republic is an ideal destination for ‘workcations’, with its central location, great value restaurants and bars and tranquil scenery. Rural Bohemia and Moravia are the perfect places to stay for month-long experiences – both have excellent transport connections and plenty of holiday house options.

3. Explore the Capital on a Shoestring with ‘Prague Unlocked’
Prague City Tourism and CzechTourism are offering discounts on visitor attractions and experiences with the Prague Unlocked scheme. When booking with the scheme’s accommodation partners, travellers receive vouchers based on group size and duration of stay. These vouchers can be used on some of Prague’s best attractions including the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague Zoo and guided city tours.

4. Discover your own personal EDEN
Take the road less travelled and find your own personal paradise. Discover the Czech Republic’s European Destinations of Excellence, offering more authentic, sustainable and meaningful experiences. Hike through the wild beauty of Bohemian Switzerland’s rocky National Park, revitalise both the body and mind at Luhacovice’s traditional spas or sip on local wines from the vineyards of Moravia.

5. Revitalise in Europe’s medical spa capital
The Czech Republic is home to more than 30 spas located across the country’s diverse landscapes. The Czech Republic’s spa offering boasts some of the oldest and most spectacular in Europe. The country’s spa industry is home to top balneology experts, highly qualified medical staff and the highest number of certificate holders among EU member states.

6. Cycle along 40,000km of unforgettable Czech trails
The Czech Republic is criss-crossed by a staggering 37,000km of cycle routes. With constantly improving facilities along the way including restaurants, bike servicing centres, accommodation and information boards, it has never been easier to enjoy the iconic Czech landscape. From the 370km Elbe Cycle Route and the fascinating Iron Curtain trail, the longest EUROVELO route, to Moravian Wine Trails, there are routes for all ages, capabilities and interests.

7. Discover the best kept wine secret of Europe
South Moravia is the Czech Republic’s largest wine region, accounting for 96 per cent of the country’s vineyards. In addition to wine festivities, festivals, and harvest, you can, for example, journey along one of the many wine trails and enjoy the picturesque scenery by either foot or bike.

8. A magical Czech winter: markets, skiing and fairy tale castles
Capture the yule-tide spirit at Prague’s world-famous Christmas market or the fairy tale, Unesco-listed Český Krumlov. Chase thrills amongst the snowy peaks of the Krkonoše Mountains and find the country’s longest ski slopes and best resorts, topped off with breath-taking views.

9. Czech’s young, happening cities: Brno, Ostrava and a different side of Prague
Discover the Czech cities that have undergone a fundamental transformation in recent years. Visit Ostrava, the steel heart of the Czech Republic, the stylish capital of Moravia, Brno, and Prague’s Bohemian district: Art District 7. Creativity has no limits there. Life there is real and people are real, too.

10. Celebrate spa season in some of Europe’s oldest spa towns
Every May, the Czech spa season kicks off with a host of ceremonies to open the spa season in West Bohemia. Experience the official opening of the springs in Marianske Lazne, where traditional costumes and a series of cultural events take over the ancient town. In Karlovy Vary, guests can witness the blessing of the mineral springs, complete with a centuries old parade led by the city’s founder Emperor Charles IV on horseback.

11. Complete Czech’s Unesco trail
Can you ‘Czech’ out all 14 Unesco Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic? Home to over twice the world average, highlights include the Historic Centres of Prague, Cesky Krumlov and Telx, the stunning Modernist Villa Tugendhat in Brno and the two most recent additions: The Krusnohori Mining Region and the National Stud Farm at Kladruby nad Labem.

12. Mountains are best explored on two wheels
With a wealth of diverse landscapes, favourable conditions and varying terrain, the Czech Republic makes for an adrenaline filled mountain biking trip. Ideal for clearing your mind after months of lockdown. From the top-rated Peklak bike park and resort in Ceska Trebova, to the mountain bike mad locals of Trutnov trails, mountain biking is a way of life in the Czech Republic.

13. Uncovering a Bohemian Paradise: Unesco Geopark and Krkonose
For centuries the Bohemian Paradise area has attracted painters, writers, artists, and dreamers of all kinds. Discover this unique combination of bizarre rock formations, deep pine forests, majestic castles and sublime villages of timber cottages, losing yourself for a moment in the labyrinth that is the Bohemian Paradise area.

14. Saddle up for the world’s oldest horse race in East Bohemia
The Grand Pardubice Steeplechase, one of the world’s oldest horse races, is held every second Sunday in October at the Pardubice Racecourse. Known as the world’s most difficult race, the Czech equivalent of the Grand National is an insight into one of the country’s most unique traditions. East Bohemia is famous for its horses, so you’ll discover more at the Unesco Heritage Site Kladruby, famous for its breed of carriage horse the “Kladruber”.

15. Learn the secrets of South Bohemia, a historic gem
Home to a diverse variety of cultural and historic gems, South Bohemia is the land of fairy tale chateaux, ancient forests and rural farmland. Live as Czech noble families once did in the glittering ballrooms and gothic spires of Hluboka Castle. Soak up the tranquil silence along the banks of the glistening Lipno Reservoir or ascend into the leafy canopies at Lipno tree walk.

16. The Czech Republic from tee to green
Tee it high and let it fly, the Czech Republic is Europe’s most underrated golfing destination. From the Kyle Phillips-designed, soon-to-be completed PGA National Czech Republic on the outskirts of Prague, to the European Tour-designated Albatross Golf Resort, the Czech Republic is bursting with fantastic courses, breathtaking scenery and welcoming hospitality.

17. Europe’s gold standard of brewing tradition
The Czech Republic is home to one of Europe’s oldest and proudest brewing traditions. Take a sip of history at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, where the world’s first pilsner lager was brewed in 1842. The city of Pilsen also hosts an annual microbrewery festival that is something of a pilgrimage for beer lovers across Europe. Still thirsty? Head to Budejovice and explore the Budweiser Budvar brewery (the original Budweiser), where Czech lager has been lovingly crafted for 125 years.

18. A festival for every kind of fan
The Czech Republic has a packed and extremely diverse annual festival schedule. From one of the country’s most important cultural celebrations, Prague Spring, and the globally recognised International Music Festival Cesky Krumlov, to completely unique events against stunning backdrops such as the Colours of Ostrava music festival and Hrady CZ. Whatever you look for in a festival, you will find in the Czech Republic in 2021.

19. Beautiful buildings for architecture adventurers
The Czech lands have long been an important centre of architectural and urbanistic experiments. Whether it’s Art Nouveau, Modernist or Gothic, the Czech Republic’s diverse architectural offering is a genuine marvel. Head to Brno, a living gallery of functionalism and explore the UNESCO-protected Modernist classic that is Villa Tugendhat for just a small taste of the country’s architectural excellence.

20. Explore one of the biggest Jewish heritage collections in Europe
Many Jewish sites have been preserved in the Czech Republic, attracting tourists from all over the world. The Jewish Cemetery, Klausen Synagogue, Old New Synagogue, and the Jewish Ghetto in Prague, as well as the unique Jewish quarter in Třebíč (registered on the Unesco World Heritage List) offer rich history, beautiful traditions and important lessons to be learned.

21. Fall in love with the industrial heart of the Czech Republic
The beating coal, iron and steel heart of the Czech Republic, Ostrava is the city that kickstarted the industrial and technological development of the country. The industrial architecture of mining towers, furnaces and the iconic skyline of the Vitkovice Ironworks are an unforgettable experience. The Colours of Ostrava Festival is a huge music festival that takes place in the shadow of the steelworks, highlighting the city’s transition from industrial, to cultural powerhouse.

Promotion

Spa trek: relaxation in the Czech Republic

There’s more to the Czech Republic than Prague. Mark Smith travels around the traditional spa towns to take in the waters, bathe in beer and enjoy wellness techniques hundreds of years old


The Czech Republic has been attracting wellness travellers for centuries and its spa traditions are among the oldest in Europe. The country is renowned for its spa towns which offer a unique take on the spa experience, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the therapeutic powers of the natural mineral water, mud, peat, natural gases and fresh country air. A complete contrast to the spa culture in the UK, the historical buildings and rich history make this a must-visit for anyone who loves to spa.

Steeped in tradition, the spas have been treating conditions like digestive, skin and respiratory problems through to cardiovascular and oncological issues since the 18th century. The spas combine a health and medical approach as standard, and spa facilities can be found in more than 30 locations throughout the country. There are strict standards governing the spas ensuring the very best of wellness therapies to heal, treat, nurture and pamper. It’s a total escape where you can combine the benefits of the natural world with great food, outdoor adventures and a range of sport and fitness activities like hiking and cycling.

Traditional spa towns

The spa towns dotted across the countryside are picture-perfect and the most impressive is the fairy tale-like town of Karlovy Vary. Surrounded by forest and positioned   overlooking the River Teplá it’s an ideal place to take the waters. There are 15 warm mineral springs that can treat anything from digestive conditions to metabolic disorders, diabetes and gout. Check in to the Hotel Imperial located on a hill above the town where the thermal waters flow directly into this five-star hotel. You are guaranteed a healthy holiday as it has over 50 medical employees, including 24-hour nurses, therapists and masseurs.

If you are looking for something a little less medical then head to the Beer Spa in the centre of Karlovy Vary, where you can bathe in wooden tubs, in a mixture of brewer’s yeast, hops, malt and peat extract. All the while helping yourself to unlimited locally brewed beer. It finishes up with time to chill on a bed of straw.

Next on your destination list should be Teplice Spa, said to be the oldest spa in central Europe, dating back to the 12th century. Situated between the Ore Mountains and the Central Bohemian Uplands it specialises in treating musculoskeletal ailments.

The town of Mariánské Lázně has over 100 mineral springs with cool water that boasts a high content of iron and mineral salt. Ingesting, bathing and inhaling are all essential rituals here with cycleways and walking paths allowing some outdoor adventures among beautiful architecture. Finally, the small town of Luhačovice, set in a peaceful valley features 13 potent, mineral-rich springs which are beneficial for respiratory problems and musculoskeletal issues. So, on your next visit, bypass Prague and head straight to the peaceful surroundings of the Czech countryside.
You won’t be disappointed.

Beer Spa: pivnilazne-kv.cz
Czech Tourism: czechtourism.com

Editor’s letter

Light at the end of the tunnel

When we last wrote to you, back at the start of November, a national lockdown loomed with a new ban on travel set to be introduced. Fast forward two months and things look rather similar, albeit with a new strain of Covid-19 spreading through the South East of England and even more stringent measures coming into force.

As ABTA has said, it’s right that the government is taking steps to control the spread of the virus, but this needs to come with the right measures to support travel businesses with little or no means of operating. The fact that the chancellor has announced a £4.6bn relief package for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors is incredibly welcome – but we await full details.

Things aren’t easy right now, but with vaccines having been approved (and administered to some), there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for both the country and travel industry. The road to recovery won’t be easy, or evenly spread – each sector faces its own challenges, but a world where we can travel freely again is closer now than it has been since the first lockdowns of March 2020. For this issue, we asked leading figures from across the industry to share their predictions – from travel agents to aviation, cruise to ski – for our Future of Travel series. We also consider the impact the pandemic has had on all-inclusive holidays, while there’s also all the latest news from ABTA and the industry.

Better times are around the corner – we hope you enjoy reading.

Digital first

The January issue is the second in a new interactive digital format. Since (the first) lockdown began and offices shut, we dropped our print edition, leaving us with a digital version that didn’t quite bring our editorial to life. So, we went back to the drawing board. This new technology allows us to create something that combines the best of print with the best of online – that is, a sleek and minimalist design with interactivity and functionality. We are now able to utilise copy, images, video, audio and animations within the frame of individual issues, allowing us to present information in an easy-to-read, enjoyable and quite unique way. Take a look around – we’d love to hear your thoughts. You can get in touch with us at info@abtamag.com.

Contact

Get in touch with the team

ABTA Magazine is produced by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA, The Travel Association.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

info@abtamag.com
020 3865 9360

Design
DJMWeb, The Studio

Sub-editors
Nathaniel Cramp

Sales and partnerships

Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
0203 865 9338
075 3270 9734


About ABTA

Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has two in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser and Solus, both aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTATravelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.

Get in touch

Waterfront Publishing
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London, SE1 1TY
info@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9360
Editor’s letter

Light at the end of the tunnel

When we last wrote to you, back at the start of November, a national lockdown loomed with a new ban on travel set to be introduced. Fast forward two months and things look rather similar, albeit with a new strain of Covid-19 spreading through the South East of England and even more stringent measures coming into force.

As ABTA has said, it’s right that the government is taking steps to control the spread of the virus, but this needs to come with the right measures to support travel businesses with little or no means of operating. The fact that the chancellor has announced a £4.6bn relief package for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors is incredibly welcome – but we await full details.

Things aren’t easy right now, but with vaccines having been approved (and administered to some), there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for both the country and travel industry. The road to recovery won’t be easy, or evenly spread – each sector faces its own challenges, but a world where we can travel freely again is closer now than it has been since the first lockdowns of March 2020. For this issue, we asked leading figures from across the industry to share their predictions – from travel agents to aviation, cruise to ski – for our Future of Travel series. We also consider the impact the pandemic has had on all-inclusive holidays, while there’s also all the latest news from ABTA and the industry.

Better times are around the corner – we hope you enjoy reading.

Digital first

The January issue is the second in a new interactive digital format. Since (the first) lockdown began and offices shut, we dropped our print edition, leaving us with a digital version that didn’t quite bring our editorial to life. So, we went back to the drawing board. This new technology allows us to create something that combines the best of print with the best of online – that is, a sleek and minimalist design with interactivity and functionality. We are now able to utilise copy, images, video, audio and animations within the frame of individual issues, allowing us to present information in an easy-to-read, enjoyable and quite unique way. Take a look around – we’d love to hear your thoughts. You can get in touch with us at info@abtamag.com.

Contact

Get in touch with the team

ABTA Magazine is produced by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA, The Travel Association.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

info@abtamag.com
020 3865 9360

Design
DJMWeb, The Studio

Sub-editors
Nathaniel Cramp

Sales and partnerships

Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
0203 865 9338
075 3270 9734


About ABTA

Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has two in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser and Solus, both aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTATravelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.

Get in touch

Waterfront Publishing
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London, SE1 1TY
info@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9360
Editor’s letter

Sapporo: the city where you can have it all

A major city rich in culture, first-class cuisine and multifunctional facilities that is also a stone’s throw from lush nature where a myriad of activities are possible all year long – you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere that balances the metropolitan and the great outdoors the way Sapporo does. Here, in Japan’s northern capital, you do not have to choose between urban excitement and a relaxing natural getaway on your holiday.

Enjoy a tour of the bustling, vibrant city centre and then, just minutes away by subway, find yourself immersed in trees as you hike a mountain and discover Hokkaido wildlife. This is the Sapporo privilege, the everyday way of life in a place that shows you at every turn that you can have it all.

Sapporo is no exception to the cleanliness, efficient transportation and spirit of hospitality that Japan is famous for, while exuding a unique, stylish aura all of its own. With an endless supply of fresh seafood and local produce, stunning natural views in all four seasons and art spaces and indigenous culture found nowhere else in Japan, it is not hard to see why Japanese citizens rank Sapporo as one of the top three most attractive cities in their country. From long, white winters filled with the world’s best powder snow to hit the Sapporo slopes with, to a crisp, refreshing green season that shimmers like a verdant oasis compared to hot mainland summers, every time is the best time to visit.

Sapporo embraces and epitomises growth and transformation. In the 152 years since modern-day Hokkaido’s naming, it has blossomed into Japan’s fifth most populous city, seen the Kaitakushi’s vision for Japan’s first domestically produced beer flourish into a world-renowned brand, and become a trusted venue for international events, from hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 1972 to the upcoming 2021 Adventure Travel World Summit – the first host city in Asia for both. Tourism is evolving here as well: Sapporo is a well-known destination within Asia, and the city is working hard to welcome more visitors from the Americas, Europe and Oceania, too.

The ABTA Guide to Sapporo will be your key to getting to know our beloved city better, and we hope it inspires you to head north to eat, explore and relax your way through the unforgettable trip of a lifetime.

Tourism & MICE Promotion Department, City of Sapporo

Find out more

In December 2020, the City of Sapporo launched a new tourism promotion website, Visit Sapporo. In addition to introducing various websites related to sightseeing in Sapporo in seven languages, One Day from Sapporo – a video project where foreign residents in Sapporo show how to enjoy the city – can also be found on this page. These resources will be able tell you even more about Sapporo, so if this guide piques your interest in the city, please check out the site and videos.

See more at visitsapporo.jp  and subscribe to the YouTube channel here


The ABTA Magazine Guide to Sapporo is produced by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of the City of Sapporo. ABTA Magazine is the official title of ABTA, The Travel Association.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

info@abtamag.com
020 3865 9360

Design
DJMWeb, The Studio

Sub-editor
Nathaniel Cramp

With thanks to: Peter Ellegard, Emily Eastman

Sales and partnerships

Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
0203 865 9338
075 3270 9734


About ABTA

Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has two in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser and Solus, both aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTATravelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.

Get in touch

Waterfront Publishing
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London, SE1 1TY
info@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9360
Map

The jewel of Hokkaido

Introduction

A destination like no other

It may not have the international clout of Tokyo or Osaka, but thanks to its varied climate, distinctive food culture and access to the countryside, there are plenty of reasons to head to Japan’s far north and discover why there’s nowhere quite like Sapporo, writes Rob Goss


Despite being a modern city that’s home to 1.97 million people, Sapporo is arguably more closely connected to nature than any other major city in Japan, with an urban-nature balance that reflects differently in each season. In summer, the warm temperatures and mercifully low humidity make Sapporo ideal for outdoor festivals, fireworks, or just lazy afternoons in the park. Not long after autumn starts to cool the air in September, and snow begins to cap Mount Teine on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to hike Mount Maruyama or take to Sapporo’s natural hot-spring baths for a soak surrounded by autumnal foliage. With the Sapporo Autumn Festival, it’s also the ideal season to take a deep dive into the city’s culinary heritage: warming soup curry, miso ramen and seasonal crab being just a few of Sapporo’s signatures.

With an average annual snowfall of almost six metres, Sapporo is one of the snowiest cities on the planet. As the year draws to a close, snow starts to transform the cityscape, with Sapporo and its environs offering up activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. In early February, the winter celebrations reach a crescendo with the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival), which sees giant snow and ice sculptures appearing at venues around the city, attracting millions of visitors in the process.

Finally comes spring. While cherry blossoms repaint much of Japan in April, Sapporo is just beginning to shed its winter layers. But once the annual pink wave of cherry blossoms reaches the city in early May, Sapporo’s green spaces and the outdoor art venues that have given it a reputation as an emerging art hub come into their own: places such as Isamu Noguchi’s sprawling Moerenuma Park or Tadao Ando’s otherworldly Hill of the Buddha. Put it all together and – in any season – there’s something special about Sapporo.

Video: Cinematic City Sapporo

Read More

The many attractions of Sapporo, such as the various seasons, the look of the city and its food are captured in Cinematic City Sapporo.

Sporting pedigree

Olympian efforts

The 1972 Winter Olympics put Sapporo on the sporting map, writes Rob Goss, and its celebrated Dome – which has special memories for English football and rugby fans – will play a big part in the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021


In 1972, Sapporo played host to the XI Winter Olympic Games, bringing together just over 1,000 athletes from 35 nations and marking the first time that the winter edition of the Games was held in Asia. Among other landmarks, the Games saw Japan win its first ever Winter gold, when the nation swept all three podium spots in the men’s 70m ski jump. More importantly, the Winter Olympics put Sapporo firmly on the international stage as a sporting venue.

Being a snowy, northern city, it might not be a surprise to hear that Sapporo went on to host the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and the 2017 Asian Winter Games. But the city has also been part of English sporting history: Sapporo’s main stadium, Sapporo Dome, is where David Beckham claimed redemption from the penalty spot as England beat Argentina 1-0 in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup. More recently, it’s where England’s rugby team kicked off their near-miss of a campaign at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a 35-3 victory over Tonga.

The 41,000-seat Dome will be in action again in the summer of 2021 as one of the football venues for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which has been pushed to the summer of 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to Sapporo’s relatively cool, refreshing summers – when the high temperature hovers around the 25-degree mark – the city will also host the Tokyo 2020 marathon and race-walking events, which were considered too dangerous to hold 500 miles south in the high heat and humidity of a Tokyo summer.

Both those Olympic events will be centred on Odori Koen, the green belt that stretches about a mile east to west through the heart of Sapporo – ordinarily the summer setting for beer gardens and the Yosakoi Soran dance festival, where some 27,000 colourfully costumed dancers perform high-energy routines as hundreds of thousands line the streets to watch on.

Sapporo Dome

Name: Sapporo Dome
Capacity: 41,484
Home Teams: Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Completed: March 2001
Architect: Hiroshi Hara

Designed by Hiroshi Hara, whose major works include Kyoto Station and the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka, the Sapporo Dome is a multifunctional venue that can transform from a football stadium into a baseball park, due to its retractable surface. Raised on a pneumatic system, the playing field is able to rotate and pass through a 90m opening of two walls, with the whole process taking five hours to complete. Inaugurated in June 2001, the stadium also serves as a meeting place for local citizens, which is why it has been nicknamed Hiroba, the public square. Its 53m high cupola offers incredible views over the city.

 

Outdoor space

Access to nature

Sapporo is a city defined by its green spaces and close proximity to natural beauty. Rob Goss takes a closer look


You don’t have to look hard to find natural peace and quiet in Sapporo. Often, you’ll simply stumble upon it. That’s certainly true of Odori Park, the 12-block stretch of park just south of Sapporo Station that almost every visitor will pass through there at some point during their stay. The park has plenty of benches under the shade of the area’s many trees, perfect for taking a moment out of your busy day to relax your body and mind.

Fewer travellers, however, make it to Nakajima Park a couple of subway stops further south. With Mount Moiwa looming in the distance, this sprawling park is home to Japanese red spruce, ginkgo, Ezo mountain cherry and numerous other types of tree are at their finest when they take on fiery tones in autumn. It is situated in the centre of some of Sapporo’s major cultural and historical buildings, including the Hoheikan (a historic guest house) and Hasso-an (an ancient tea house), and the Kitara concert hall, which has seen performances by some of the most notable artists in the world. With a boating pond, sporting centre, children’s centre and a river suitable for paddling, Nakajima makes for a good family afternoon out, too.

Just a couple of miles northeast from Sapporo Station, there’s also Maruyama Park, which offers a glimpse at the kind of natural environment that defines much of Hokkaido. Within the park’s 70 hectares is the tutelary Hokkaido Shrine, which is one of Hokkaido’s finest cherry blossom spots when its 1,100 sakura trees bloom in May. Its traditional structures look pretty good covered in snow in winter, too. Rising from the shrine, you then find the primeval forest-covered Mount Maruyama, only about 225m in height, but nevertheless a fun hike that delivers grand views back over Sapporo. En route, you might spot squirrels, numerous species of birds, Great Purple Emperor butterflies and flower varieties such as Japanese fairy bells.

Odori Park

Made up of fountains, playgrounds, seasonally arranged gardens and more than 4,700 trees from 92 species, Sapporo’s Odori Park remains one of the city’s most iconic features. Dating back to 1871 when it was originally constructed as a large-scale Kabo-sen, essentially a firebreak between the north and south of the city, it has developed over time and is today as beloved by visitors as it is by local families and office workers on lunch. It is home to many of Sapporo’s most famous events: the Sapporo Snow Festival in winter; the Sapporo Odori Beer Garden in summer, when the park turns into a giant beer garden as part of the Sapporo Summer Festival; and the Lilac Festival in May, when about 400 lilac trees bloom. The annual Hokkaido Marathon begins and ends in the park in late August, while Autumn Fest takes place during September and is made up of food stalls from Sapporo and the wider region. At the eastern end of the park is the Sapporo TV Tower, built in 1957 and reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower (it’s similarly illuminated by night), which offers views of the park and the surrounding city from its observation deck.

Cultural clout

Art is everywhere

As Rob Goss discovers, the outdoor art scene in Sapporo is another example of how nature is woven into the fabric of the city


As well as being home to the triennial Sapporo International Art Festival and numerous city centre galleries, Sapporo also boasts a collection of superb outdoor art venues. The art scene is another example of how nature is woven into the fabric of modern-day life in the city.

Look to northeastern Sapporo and you’ll find Moerenuma Park, an expansive art park designed by sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi. Repurposing an old waste treatment site, Noguchi approached the design of the park with the concept that all 160 hectares should function as one single giant sculpture. With a Louvre-esque glass pyramid as its most notable structure, the rest of Noguchi’s vision employs hills, fountains, and steel and concrete installations to form a wonderful flowing landscape that – like Sapporo itself – feels like a meeting of urbanity and nature. The park is brilliant in all seasons, with cherry blossom in spring, paddling pools in summer, red and yellow foliage in autumn and activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding in winter.

While Moerenuma is hard to beat, another outdoor spot well worth a look is Sapporo Art Park, an art complex located in a 40-hectare forest where visitors can try craft workshops, stroll through a rambling sculpture garden, or stop by an art museum where the emphasis (though not sole focus) is on artists with a connection to Hokkaido.

Then there’s the Hill of the Buddha, which could lay claim to being the single most photogenic piece of open-air art in Japan. The work of acclaimed Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Hill features a 13.5m Buddha statue placed in an underground shrine, which from the outside appears as a giant mound with just the upper third of the Buddha’s head poking above ground. What makes a mostly buried buddha so striking? Scale and surroundings. The mound is covered with snow in winter and purple lavender in summer, which, added to the mix of stark concrete interiors and outdoor water features, help create numerous Instagrammable views of the Buddha from inside and out.

Video: Welcoming Symphony Sapporo

Read More

Set to the music of Sapporo Symphony Orchestra – one of the most renowned orchestras in Japan – this video introduces the charm of Sapporo along with the passing of the four seasons.

Heavenly food

Culinary capital

With some of Japan’s best seafood and local delicacies such as warming soup curry and decadent shime parfaits – not to mention a world famous beer – Rob Goss explains why Sapporo is foodie heaven


Ask a dozen Japanese what words come to mind when they think of Sapporo and ‘food’ will invariably be near the top of the list. As the main city on Hokkaido, which is often referred to as the ‘breadbasket of Japan’, Sapporo is the focal point of every culinary delight Japan’s northernmost island has to offer.

First and foremost, a foodie trip to Sapporo means the chance to try some of Japan’s best seafood, caught in the three oceans that surround Hokkaido. From creamy sea urchin to seasonal crab like zuigani (snow crab), kegani (horsehair crab) and highly prized tarabagani (king crab), you can get a great overview of Sapporo’s seafood at Nijo Market, a short walk from the eastern end of Odori Park. Nijo is also a prime place to sample the local seafood without breaking the budget, just drop by for a dish called kaisendon, where a bowl of rice is topped with seafood – you could opt for a simple combo of rice capped with a mound of sea urchin or sliced raw tuna, or go for a decadent combination of several to a dozen cofourful toppings.

Given Sapporo’s long, cold winters, it’s no surprise that several other Sapporo signature dishes are designed to warm and nourish. The local take on ramen is no exception: called miso ramen it has a rich miso-flavored broth and thick, curly yellow noodles, which combine for a heartier ramen hit than usual. To try miso ramen and other variations, visit Ganso Ramen Yokocho, a charmingly cosy alley that’s home to 17 tiny ramen joints. Ganso translates as ‘original’ and this is where this warming dish came from.

Taking ‘warming’ to the next level is another Sapporo classic: soup curry. Exactly as the name suggests, it’s a curried soup that can include various combinations of meat and locally produced vegetables, and it comes with rice on the side that you can mix in to get something close to a mulligatawny. At Garaku, Suage+ and dozens of other soup curry specialists around Sapporo, you can customise the exact ingredients and tweak the spice levels to make it mild or burn like a vindaloo.

Sapporo was the first city in Japan where beer brewing was carried out in earnest by Japanese people, and is the birthplace of Sapporo Beer’s predecessor, the Kaitakushi Beer Brewery, which was founded in 1876. Influenced by German brewing methods and purity rules, it was Sapporo that established light, crisp lagers as the beer of choice in Japan. At the lovely redbrick Sapporo Beer Museum, you can find out more about Sapporo Beer and Hokkaido’s beer history, and participate in a tour that ends with a tasting session. Continuing the city’s beery traditions, you’ll also find local craft brewers like Moon Sun Brewing in the city; they have a brewpub a few blocks south of Odori Park’s eastern end. If you’ve got room for dessert after the ramen, soup curry and beer, you’re in the right place. Hokkaido is the largest producer of dairy in Japan, and Sapporo is where all the milky goodies flow, from ice cream and cheesecake to cheese tarts. One particular Sapporo special that merges all the city’s dessert decadence is the shime parfait. With shime translating to ‘ending’ or ‘concluding’, it’s a sundae eaten at the end of a night out and, in whatever guise it comes, it’s an absolute delight. Shime parfait has become a much-loved local culture and, in the many shops making photogenic parfaits with seasonal fruits and other ingredients, you are sure to find a favourite.

Among the many parfait places that open until late at night or early in the morning, the aptly named Sinner Café does a chocolate shime parfait with blancmange and homemade chocolate sauce, while Noymond Organic Café serves a version with green tea ice cream and Nanakamado Cafe adds a fruity touch with fresh strawberries atop azuki red bean cream and rice flour dumplings (shiratama).

The story of Sapporo

A potted history

Anthony Pearce looks into Sapporo’s rich and varied history, which takes in everything from agriculture and education to sport, war and, of course, beer


Sapporo, the largest city on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, was originally a region with many Ainu settlements. The first records of a settlement in the Ishikari Plain date from the late 17th century, in historical documents about conflicts between the Ainu people and the Japanese. Around this time, trading posts were established in the region to trade with retainers from the Matsumae clan, and trade between the two groups began to take place. After this, the Edo shogunate made Sapporo the base for developing Hokkaido, because of its accessibility to inland areas, the Sea of Japan, and the Pacific Ocean via the Ishikari River. Following the Meiji Restoration, the Hokkaido Development Commission (the Kaitakushi) was established ion 1869, and the Meiji government began construction of the main government office as a base for them, which became the foundation of the current city centre of Sapporo.

During this period, Odori Park was first established as a large-scale firebreak that divided the centre of the city into the government district in the north and the commercial district in the south. Today, the likes of the Sapporo Lilac Festival and the world famous Sapporo Snow Festival are held in the park, which is also home to the city’s iconic TV Tower, opened in 1957.

In 1870, the Kaitakushi approached the American government for assistance in developing the land, with Horace Capron, who served as secretary of agriculture under president Ulysses S Grant appointed as O-yatoi gaikokujin – a common practice of the period which meant foreign experts, usually from the UK or US, were hired in Japan to teach new techniques. A demand for a specialised educational institutions to train the leaders of Hokkaido’s development led to the establishment of the Sapporo Agricultural College – today, Hokkaido University. William S Clark, who was the president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts Amherst) became the founding vice-president of the college. To understand the influence on the region, you need to look no further than the Hokkaido government office building, built in American Neo-Baroque style with red bricks in 1888, two years after the island’s government was founded.

At this time, the city’s most famous export was born; Sapporo Beer was created by Seibei Nakagawa, who had left Japan at the age of 17 – when doing so was strictly forbidden – and learnt the craft of brewing in Germany, which he put to good use back in Japan in 1875. These developments in agriculture, education and technology, coupled with the construction of the country’s third major railway in 1880, which linked Sapporo to the port city of Otaru, led to greater migration to the ‘new’ region. In 1918, the iconic Sapporo Street Car – currently referred to as the shiden – first began operating. The city became increasingly well connected, with Okadama Airport opening in 1942.

Like much of Japan, Sapporo was devastated by the Second World War. The resulting firestorm from incendiary and fragmentation cluster bombs dropped on the city left tens of thousands of people homeless. A sizeable portion of the city was destroyed, with a considerable rebuilding process needed following the war. From here, the city gradually grew into the neon-lit metropolis we see today.

After hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, which was the first to be held in Asia, the city has become increasingly well-known outside of Japan, with the Sapporo Dome, which opened in 2001, hosting three games during the 2002 FIFA World Cup and two games during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It is also one of the planned football venues for the delayed Tokyo Olympics, which will take place this year, having been pushed back from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual Snow Festival, which features giant sculptures carved from packed snow, attracts more than two million tourists each year, while the further growth of Sapporo Beer and the city’s unique style of ramen noodles are just two more reasons why Sapporo is becoming increasingly popular with tourists visiting Japan.

Snow business

Winter wonderland

With six ski resorts within the city limits, you don’t need to leave Sapporo to hit the slopes and, as Rob Goss discovers, there is also plenty of other snow business to keep you occupied


For fans of Japan’s winter resorts, Hokkaido is most known for the powder snow of Niseko, a 90km drive southwest of Sapporo. But you don’t need to leave the city to hit quality slopes. There are six ski resorts within the city limits and both Sapporo Kokusai and Sapporo Teine have direct access from Sapporo Station.

Sapporo Kokusai is a relatively small ski resort, about 90 minutes by bus from central Sapporo, but it gets consistently large amounts of snow that keep its seven courses and off-piste sections in great condition throughout the early December to late March season. As a bonus, it’s close to the laidback hot spring town of Jozankei Onsen, so you could add a night there at a traditional inn and enjoy a post-skiing soak in a communal hot-spring bath.

Sapporo Teine is a different beast. Spread over the 1,000m Mt. Teine, it’s close enough to central Sapporo (40 mins by bus) that you actually get city views from slopes. Used for events at the 1972 Winter Olympics, it’s now split into two sections: the Highland Zone with medium to advanced runs, as well as off-piste sections and a terrain park with jumps and rails, and the more family-friendly Olympia Zone, which has gentle runs and an area with sledding and tubing. Being so easy to get to from the city centre, the location of both resorts means you can head back into the city to enjoy Sapporo’s restaurants and nightlife after a day on the slopes.

Sapporo’s winter activity isn’t limited to skiing and snowboarding. Away from the slopes, another outdoor option could be snowshoeing over the white expanse of arty Moerenuma Park or at Sappporo Art Park. Less strenuous, but just as fun, is ice fishing on the frozen Barato River on the city’s outskirts. Best done as a half-day tour from central Sapporo, from January to March you can set up in tents on the river and try to catch wakasagi smelts through the ice, before having your catch battered and fried on the spot as tempura.

Even less exerting would be to time your Sapporo trip for early February, when Odori Park and other parts of snow-covered central Sapporo are taken over by the annual Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival). Held since 1950, when it began as a minor local event, the Yuki Matsuri has established itself as arguably Japan’s most famous winter festival, now attracting international teams of snow and ice sculptors as well as some two million onlookers. The spectacular creations in previous years have ranged from 15m statues of Darth Vader and replicas of famous castles and world heritage sites to intricately carved dragons and popular Japanese anime characters. Almost anything goes.

Editor’s letter

A new-look digital edition

ABTA Magazine is the official magazine of ABTA, The Travel Association. It acts as the voice of the travel industry, providing in-depth features, news, comment, analysis and interviews. Reporting on aviation, entertainment, hotels, cruise, ski, and more, the magazine covers the breadth of the travel industry. 

ABTA Magazine forms the centrepiece of a range of ABTA publications including the ABTA Magazine Guides to…, a series of themed guides to different regions and travel industry trends, such as Cruise and the Caribbean. Since 2018, guides have been produced in association with the tourist boards of Greece, Murcia, in Spain and Miyagi in Japan and, most recently, Marbella, which you can read in full here and on the ABTA Magazine website here.

Since Covid-19 imposed lockdowns across the UK, ABTA Magazine has been digital-only. Working closely with ABTA, the magazine is distributed to the entire ABTA database of more than 22,000 industry email contacts. During this period, we have enjoyed a huge increase in traffic to ABTAmag.com On average, the website has more than 40,000 unique users per calendar month.

In November 2020, ABTA Magazine relaunched its digital edition in a new, interactive format. This new technology allows us to create something that combines the best of print with the best of online – that is, a sleek and minimalist design with interactivity and functionality. We are now able to utilise copy, images, video, audio and animations within the frame of individual issues, allowing us to present information in an easy-to-read, enjoyable and quite unique way.

ABTA Magazine’s Weekly Digest, a newsletter which considers the current state of play in the travel industry, is out each Friday.

Contact

Get in touch with the team

ABTA Magazine is produced by Waterfront Publishing on behalf of ABTA, The Travel Association.


Contacts

Editorial
Anthony Pearce, director
anthony@waterfront-publishing.com

info@abtamag.com
020 3865 9360

Design
DJMWeb, The Studio

Sub-editors
Nathaniel Cramp

With thanks to: Peter Ellegard, Emily Eastman

Sales and partnerships

Sam Ballard, director
sam@waterfront-publishing.com

Bryan Johnson, senior sales manager
bryan@waterfront-publishing.com
0203 865 9338
075 3270 9734


About ABTA

Waterfront Publishing is an independent publisher based in central London. It has two in-house magazines, Cruise Adviser and Solus, both aimed at the travel trade. It has also produced magazines on behalf of ABTATravelzoo; and Emerald Waterways. Its design agency The Studio by Waterfront offers copywriting, proofreading and design for print, digital, advertising and branding.

Get in touch

Waterfront Publishing
Hop Exchange,
Southwark Street,
London, SE1 1TY
info@waterfront-publishing.com
020 3865 9360
Calendar

From January, ABTA Magazine will be published monthly. It will continue in a digital-only format for the foreseeable future.

ABTA Magazine is publishing on the first Friday of the month.

2021 schedule
January 8 (peaks special)
February 5
March 5 (sustainability special)
April 2
May 7 (luxury special)
June 4
July 2
August 6
September 3
October 1
November 5
December 3

Forward features

With so much uncertainty in the world, we don’t want to be too prescriptive with our forward features list. We think it would be unwise to plan too far ahead when, at the time of writing this, we don’t even know whether or not international travel from the UK will be permitted in a month’s time. That said, we are able to give you an idea of some of the features and themes we have planned for the first six months of 2021.

Each issue will also contain regular features such as news, interviews, ABTA campaigns and comment, UK holidays and destination focuses.


January

Peaks special, with expert analysis and comment from different sectors of the industry including hotels, aviation, escorted touring, adventure, cruise and more
Feature: All-inclusive travel

February

Feature: the future of US travel

March
Sustainability special, including features on community tourism, decarbonisation, the concept of ‘flight shame’, plastic reduction and more

April
Feature: the future of business travel
Feature: river cruise

May

Luxury special, including features on the best destinations, interviews with operators and hotels

June
Feature: the best of summer 2021
Audience

Since Covid-19 forced lockdowns across the UK, ABTA Magazine has been digital-only. Working closely with ABTA, the magazine is distributed to the entire ABTA database of more than 22,000 industry email contacts. During this period, we have enjoyed a huge increase in traffic to ABTAmag.com On average, the website has more than 40,000 unique users per calendar month. The magazine is also distributed to Waterfront’s database of more than 3,000 industry contacts through the Weekly Digest newsletter.

ABTA Magazine is the voice of the travel industry and critical reading for everyone. All ABTA members from frontline travel agents, to senior decision makers up to CEO level, plus large numbers of non ABTA travel service suppliers receive a copy. The distribution is unrivalled” – Mark Tanzer, chief executive, ABTA

 

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