Local Economy Could Soar With Boston-Tokyo Flight

The 787 Dreamliner will make the first-ever, non-stop Boston-Tokyo flight Sunday. Boston hotels and restaurants are prepping for a jump in Japanese tourists. Another economic boost could come from Japanese corporations that may now put their North American headquarters in Massachusetts. From member station WBUR, Curt Nickisch reports on the city's "nonstop excitement."

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Boston is getting the country's first commercial route flown by the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Now, the flight lifts off tomorrow afternoon, nonstop service from Boston to Tokyo. The Japan Airlines flight will also give a lift to Boston's economy, with Japanese tourists and business travelers now just 13 hours away.

From member WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch reports on the city's nonstop excitement.

CURT NICKISCH, BYLINE: From Boston's airport, it's just a five-minute cab ride to the North End, an Italian-American neighborhood of pizzerias, pastry shops and sidewalk cafes.

FRANK DEPASQUALE: DePasquale, Frank DePasquale. Right now, you're at my gelateria.

NICKISCH: DePasquale also owns high-end restaurants, a bakery, and a seafood bar in the North End. He was born in Italy, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Now he's preparing for an influx of customers from the shadow of Mount Fuji.

DEPASQUALE: I did a menu that is written in Japanese. I'm giving them the food that they really love. Which is the fresh oysters, all these cold-water oysters from the Northeast.

NICKISCH: DePasquale has added more seafood dishes - crab, ceviche and raw fish. He heard that many Japanese turn up their noses at American-sized meals, so he's added smaller menu items.

DEPASQUALE: A dish of pasta that is absolutely not overflowing on the dish. Not that extra sauce flooded in sauce. I mean we're trying to give them a dish that they would eat in their own home country.

NICKISCH: Boston restaurants are not the only ones planning to serve a boost in Japanese visitors.

KELLY: Good afternoon, thanks for calling the front desk, this is Kelly.

NICKISCH: At the Westin Copley Place Hotel, marketing manager Perry Kessler has been running cultural boot camps for employees.

PERRY KESSLER: Whether it's, you know, the reading of a business card, bowing, there are certain numbers that may be thought to bring back luck.

NICKISCH: The hotel has hired Japanese speakers to help guests get Red Sox tickets and figure out where to shop.

SHOKO HIRAO: Everything in Japan is so expensive.

NICKISCH: Shoko Hirao is a Japan native who's been advising local businesses how to cash in on this new wave of high-spending visitors.

HIRAO: Average is I think $3,800 per person for a five-night stay.

NICKISCH: Hirao has helped outlet malls print international sizing charts. She's told Boston's many museums to call themselves a national treasure to draw more Japanese tourists.

But it's the potential for corporate travelers that has Boston business leader Tim Rowe excited about city's first-ever nonstop flight to Asia.

TIM ROWE: If you don't have a direct flight, then the foreign company would never consider even a regional headquarters here.

NICKISCH: Rowe says the new Japan Airlines flight makes Boston now one-and-a-half hours closer to Tokyo door-to-door than New York City.

For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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