New tourist tax and higher transport costs: How Japan plans to tackle overtourism

japan travel news

International tourists are flocking back to Japan, with visitor numbers reaching nearly pre-pandemic levels, according to government statistics. While this is good news for the country’s tourism industry and hospitality sectors, which struggled during Japan’s slow reopening after COVID-19, it is putting pressure on the local residents. In response, Japan’s tourism minister has announced new measures to combat the problems of overtourism.

Japan’s tourist numbers skyrocket

In September, Japan welcomed over 2 million international visitors for the fourth consecutive month, as reported by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). These numbers represent more than 96 percent of the levels seen in 2019 before the pandemic caused travel restrictions worldwide. However, this influx of visitors has already resulted in issues. For example, at Mount Fuji, concerns are growing over pollution and safety due to overcrowding.

Measures to combat overtourism in Japan

To address the challenges posed by mass tourism, authorities in Japan have outlined plans to mitigate the negative effects. One strategy is to strengthen the infrastructure, particularly by expanding the bus and taxi fleets in popular cities. Taxi companies in crowded areas are struggling to meet the demand, so the government aims to support regions that experience a significant increase in tourists during certain periods, such as Niseko and Hokkaido during the ski season.

Another proposal is to establish direct bus routes from key stations to popular tourist destinations specifically for visitors. Alternatively, authorities have suggested increasing bus fare prices during peak hours to encourage travel during non-peak times.

Encouraging tourists to explore lesser-visited areas

The tourism ministry has emphasized the importance of spreading tourism beyond overcrowded hotspots like Tokyo and Kyoto. This plan builds on earlier announcements to develop tourism in 11 “model destinations,” including Ise-Shima in Mie Prefecture and eastern Hokkaido. The goal is to promote the natural and rural attractions of these areas and alleviate the strain on popular destinations.

Introducing a new tourist tax in a Japanese city

As a separate initiative, the western Japanese city of Hatsukaichi is implementing a new tourist tax. The city, located in the Hiroshima Prefecture, is home to the centuries-old Itsukushima Shrine, one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Since October 1st, visitors to the shrine on Miyajima Island have been charged a 100 yen (€0.60) fee. This additional revenue will be used to preserve the city’s nature, history, and culture for future generations.

Japan’s proactive approach to combatting overtourism reflects the country’s commitment to preserving its cultural and natural heritage while ensuring a sustainable tourism industry. By implementing measures such as upgrading transportation systems, promoting lesser-visited areas, and introducing tourist taxes, Japan aims to strike a balance between welcoming visitors and preserving the quality of life for its residents.

Related Posts

© 2024 themedipia - WordPress Theme by WPEnjoy