Barriers free Tourism:
Tourism accessible to all people regardless of age, nationality, disability and other factors that may discourage leisurely travel, is starting to gain wider recognition in graying Japan.
SPI (Japan) Inc. arranges universal tours conducted by so-called travel helpers, or people who have nursing-care skills and a basic knowledge of travel-related services.
Travel helpers are trained to cope with unexpected incidents during their work.
The number of tours has gradually increased since the Tokyo-based company launched the service in 1995, totaling some 450 in 2018, it said.
Economic benefits to rural Japan;
An increasing number of foreign tourists are staying at hotels and inns in rural areas of Japan, spreading the positive economic impact across the country.
Stays by foreign tourists outside the metropolitan areas surrounding Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya accounted for over 40 percent of the total for the first time in 2017.
With the government aiming to lift the ratio to 50 percent toward the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, the report underscored plans to enhance necessary measures to attain the goal.
According to the report, Kagawa, Saga, Aomori, Okinawa and Okayama prefectures saw particularly strong demand for hotel and inn stays by foreign travellers last year on the back of new or increased flights linking them with China or South Korea.
Tourism is a pillar of the growth strategy of the government, which aims to increase the annual number of foreign travellers to Japan to 40 million by 2020 and to 60 million by 2030.
Last year, a record-high 28.7 million tourists visited Japan.
Viewing tourism as a key for revitalizing rural economies, the government hopes to see more foreigners visiting areas beyond popular big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.
The government pledged to enhance the attractiveness of regions outside major cities by utilizing cultural assets and national parks in rural areas.
According to the Tourism Agency, a foreign tourist spent about 150,000 yen ($1,370) on average last year.
The government aims to boost the amount to 200,000 yen so as to achieve the goal of raising overall spending by foreign tourists to 800 billion yen per year in 2020.
The agency’s panel of experts has recommended training tour guides who can explain Japanese culture and local festivals to attract more tourists to remote areas for longer stays.