Published on : Saturday, October 13, 2018
The throng of international visitors who are unable to board appeared somewhat resentful as the bus departed, stranding them in scorching heat. Such sights are increasingly common in Kyoto as more and more tourists visit the country.
Some visitors had brought small portable fans after conducting research in advance. The local residents are likewise having more trouble immediately boarding buses.
Such excessive growth in tourism has damaged the environment and disturbed residents’ everyday lives, such as by causing traffic congestion. This phenomenon, dubbed “tourism pollution”, has emerged as a worldwide problem, and can also lead to disappointment for visitors.
This year, the resort island of Boracay in the Philippines was swamped by tourists, which caused a rapid acceleration in environmental degradation. The island was forced to deny entry to tourists for six months. At a press conference, Philippines Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat stressed that she had learned that promotion of tourism should not compromise the health of the environment.
In response to such problems, efforts are under way to discourage visitors from converging during certain seasons and times of day. To combat overcrowding at Mount Fuji – a top destination for foreign tourists – the Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectural governments are urging visitors to avoid crowds, view the sunrise at mountain huts before heading for the peak, and climb on weekdays when congestion is less severe.
Central Japan Railway Co, which uses the catchphrase “Souda, Kyoto ikou” (Yes, let’s go to Kyoto) in tourism campaigns, is now promoting maple trees that still have green leaves in early summer. Through such efforts, it hopes to promote tourism beyond the crowded peak tourist seasons when cherry blossoms and autumn foliage come into view.
The central government has likewise been spurred to take action. In June, the Japan Tourism Agency established an office to promote sustainable tourism, and is working to grasp the current situation and rapidly implement countermeasures.
In Kamakura, a popular destination for foreign tourists, traffic congestion has become a serious issue, primarily on weekends. To alleviate congestion, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, Kamakura city government and other bodies are considering the use of ETC 2.0, a next-generation automated toll-collection system, to charge vehicles entering the city centre with a fee.
They will also conduct demonstration trials to ease congestion, such as studying the flow of people and vehicles using AI-assisted image analysis technology.