A country that was once one of the world’s most visited has announced plans to make troublesome future guests fork over more than residents.
Before Covid, Japan boasted approximately 32.2 million tourist arrivals per year, making it the third most popular destination in East Asia behind China and South Korea.
In the years since the deadly disease struck the region, it has failed to recover those numbers, however, with 3.83 million reported arrivals in 2022.
With the numbers starting to look up once more, Japan’s tourism chiefs have floated brand new plans to ensure their future visitors behave.
Future visitors, including Britons, may end up paying a premium for train fairs and even face photo bans under the latest proposals.
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On Wednesday, October 18, the Japanese government released new data showing 2.18 million foreign visitors entered the country in September 2023, 96.1 per cent of visitors reported in the same month in 2019.
While the figures are promising for the country’s recovering economy, the visitor boom has raised fears of “overtourism” among officials.
Fumio Kishida, the Prime Minister of Japan, said this week that “some areas” have been negatively impacted by tourists.
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “In some areas and during certain periods, there has been an impact on the lives of local residents due to inbound tourists, such as bad manners.”
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The Prime Minister vowed to relieve the burden on Japan’s residents and outlined a prospective solution for struggling train operators.
Among the methods at the government’s disposal is a system that would allow railway operators to hike train fees in line with congestion levels following a simplified review.
The system would mean that high-activity tourist hotspots become more expensive travel options, leaving visitors with higher-priced tickets.
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Rail operators would first need the permission of local authorities, to prove the costs would not increase the burden on local residents, and that the price increases are not designed to arbitrarily boost revenues.
Japan has also seen many of its visitors becoming more emboldened when taking pictures, with people walking on private land to snap photos of stunning national scenery.
Some people have even taken pictures of geisha with their apprentices, called maiko, an act strictly forbidden without permission, leading Kyoto lawmakers to introduce a “ban” on street photography.
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