Asia Minute: Japan Asks About “Overtourism”

Oct 16, 2018

Shibuya, Tokyo
Credit Joshua Damasio / Flickr

It’s still too early to determine what impacts the Marriott hotel strike may have on tourism in Hawai‘i. That may be one challenge for the new leader of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, expected to be named soon. On the other side of the Pacific, there’s a different sort of challenge for tourism.

Japan wants to know about the downside of an ever-growing number of visitors.

The Japan Tourism Agency is putting together its first survey on what it calls “overtourism.” Japanese media report the agency has already sent about 50 questionnaires to local governments — with about 150 more going out by the end of the month.

One focus of the surveys, complaints of local residents – ranging from noise to road congestion – including impacts on commuter traffic.

Another concern is sustainability, both from the perspective of the environment and from the perspective of the people who live in areas popular with visitors.

The Japan Tourism Agency plans to issue a report of its findings along with some recommendations by next spring.

Skyline of Tokyo
Credit Derrick Brutel / Flickr

Tourism has exploded in Japan in recent years — thanks in part to strong growth in travelers from China. Through this August, overseas visitor arrivals were up more than 12 percent from last year, and they remain on a record pace — projected to pass 30-million by the end of the year.

Japan’s government hopes to boost the number of international visitors to more than 40-million by the year 2020 — when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.