Japanese business and tourism professionals will tour Monterey next week
About 14 year(s) ago by The Inns of Monterey
A Strong Association The Monterey-Nanao relationship dates back to 1986, when a group from Nanao first visited Monterey to study the city's economic drivers. Like Monterey, Nanao is a coastal community that repositioned itself as a tourist destination after its fishing industry diminished. Several delegations visited California in the following years, and local Rotary clubs and non-profit organizations got involved in hosting and leading presentations. By the mid-1990s, the two communities signed a formal sister city agreement and a group of volunteers came together as the Monterey Peninsula-Nanao Friendship Association to coordinate cultural and business exchanges. Since 1995, more than 700 Nanao residents have visited Monterey; some 300 professionals and youngsters from Monterey have toured Nanao. Students from Walter Colton School regularly travel to Japan through the affiliation, as do student groups associated with Rotary International and the Soroptimist's Junior Wings program and young musicians from the Monterey Jazz Festival's all-star bands. Building Communities In addition to launching a jazz event inspired by the Monterey Jazz Festival, Nanao leaders have carried out other projects based on lessons learned in Monterey. The community constructed a wharf that now draws tourists to its restaurants and shops. After touring the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, leaders built their own hospital on a hill overlooking the city. And, Japanese delegations have toured attractions and entities such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Monterey Peninsula Airport on past trips. While the business connections are key, the cultural component of each exchange also leaves a lasting impact. "The people involved in this sister city relationship learn so much. We have a better understanding of their lives and they have a better understanding of ours," says former Monterey Mayor Dan Albert, who has visited Nanao seven times. "My thinking is that there are a lot of international conflicts today that start because we don't understand other cultures. This kind of thing gives you a better understanding of other people and that can make a big difference in the world." For more information on the Monterey Peninsula-Nanao Friendship Association, visit www.monterey.org/sistercity/japan.html.