The pandemic has accelerated these trends. Prior to 2020, the government had already poured trillions of yen into promoting lesser-visited parts of Japan as tourist destinations.

Although sustainability rarely factored into official tourism strategy within Japan, the effects of the climate crisis and overtourism appear to have finally made some impact. Government white papers in recent years have highlighted the importance of redirecting tourist traffic away from larger cities mitigate the effects of overtourism, as well as to spread the economic benefits of tourism more equally.

The Japan Tourism Agency launched a Sustainable Tourism Promotion office in 2018, joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council in late 2019 and recently issued Japan-specific GSTC Criteria by which industry operators can seek certification as being “sustainable” to an international standard.

Read the full article: Why local communities are important to the future of Japan’s ailing tourism industry by Florentyna Leow on The Japan Times (September 26, 2020)