Japan always carries the image of a beautiful destination in the heart of travelers in terms of both nature and people. While developing tourism, the governments of Japanese prefectures and cities always have timely adjustments and development policies to preserve their values.

The recent survey by Booking.com shows that Japan is one of the countries with the least amount of changes in travelers' perception about sustainable and responsible travel post-Covid. However, this may be because Japan already did a good job in spreading and developing sustainable tourism across its prefectures and cities, spreading the awareness of sustainable travel to its people.

The old capital of Kyoto

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Kyoto was selected in the 2020 Sustainable Destinations Top 100 thanks to the local government's continuous efforts in ensuring harmony between citizens’ lives and tourism. The city always implements developing policies to improve the quality of life of the local community while developing tourism in a sustainable manner.

Kyoto has been concerned with congestion in the spring and the fall, the busiest tourist seasons. To address this imbalance between seasons, the local authorities have been developing tourist attractions in the off-season (summer and winter) and improving the environment to attract international travelers.

As a result, the number of tourists in the busy season has decreased and the number of tourists in the off-season has increased, narrowing the gap between the busy and quiet seasons.

Niseko Town

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Niseko Town is a popular Japanese ski spot with a long history of self-governance. The spirit of the whole town comes from the fact that each resident does contribute to building the community and respects the diverse cultures and values within the town.

To prevent tourists from off-piste accidents during their backcountry skiing experience here, the town created the Niseko Rules to ensure the safety of all skiers while simultaneously respecting everyone’s right to freely enjoy the fresh, powder snow that Niseko is blessed with. During winter, the local community works together to support these Niseko Rules, monitoring the daily snow and weather conditions, and keeping up-to-date on the official Niseko Avalanche Information online throughout the skiing season.

In addition, the town has created a Landscape Ordinance to regulate all new developments and prevent excessive commercialization of on-going projects that were not originally commercially restricted. Moreover, the town has also set CO2 minimization targets to respond to climate change and has been selected as the "Environmental Model City" and "SDGs Future City" of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations.

Kamaishi City

Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, which hosts “Rugby World Cup 2019™ ️Japan”, is a destination with many values ​​in terms of nature and Buddhist culture. Kamaishi is a top destination for the usage of renewable energy and the reduction of solid waste.

For example, regarding renewable energy, the city has a subsidy system set up to introduce new energy such as solar power generation apparatus and combustion equipment using biomass fuel to dwelling houses. In addition, to minimize the environmental impacts of transportation, Kamaishi has also developed many bus routes with the aim of reducing driving and exhaust emissions.

Furthermore, Kamaishi City was recognized as a sharing city by the Sharing Economy Association, Japan, and demonstration tests for car sharing and ride sharing are being held.

Okinawa Prefecture

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Okinawa is one of the most popular beach resort destinations in Japan with its emerald seawater and white sand strip, which makes it a resort paradise for not only Japanese but also many foreign tourists. Okinawa was formerly the Ryukyu Kingdom, which was completely separate from Japan, so it has a very unique culture and history.

In order to maintain its natural and cultural-historical values, the Okinawa Prefecture Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Promotion Headquarters was set up and in November 2019, the “Okinawa Prefecture SDGs Promotion Policy” was published as an attempt to realize the “Okinawa 21st Century Vision”.

Accordingly, the province will promote tourism in a balance between environment, lifestyles, and economy for achieving coexistence between environmental conservation activities and economic activities. In particular, tourism activities must closely align with regional characteristics and local industries such as the traditional basho textile village. In addition, Okinawa also promotes green tourism in Ogimi Village, or ecotourism in Higashi Village, Kunigami Village, and Nago City.

Source: Destination Review

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