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Shikisai Hill, Biei, Hokkaido, Japan
Photograph: Shutterstock

Japan has unveiled new anti-overtourism measures

Visitor numbers are at 96 percent of 2019 figures, and the government are stepping in

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

After nearly three years of on-and-off travel restrictions took an immeasurable toll on the tourism industry across the world, visitor numbers are now bouncing back – but in some cases, a new surge of travellers is leading to a whole new set of problems. From Bali to Amsterdam, many destinations are now implementing measures to combat overtourism.

Japan is the latest country to join the growing list of travel destinations fighting back against the tourist tide. The country’s visitor numbers for September this year reached 96 percent of the 2019 figure, leading to the tourism ministry announcing an ‘overtourism prevention plan’. 

The plan outlines measures to strengthen Japan’s infrastructure by boosting the number of buses and taxis. Transport services are currently overwhelmed with demand, particularly in areas that experience seasonal popularity, like ski resorts in Niseko and Hokkaido. Staggering fare prices to encourage off-peak travel has also been proposed, as well as setting up new bus services specifically for tourists. 

Given that Tokyo was recently named the fastest-growing destination for digital nomads, it’s no surprise that improving infrastructure is a top priority for the tourism ministry. 

The tourism ministry also outlined 11 ‘model tourist destinations’, which were selected by experts from a list of 62 entries. The destinations were chosen as they offer something different from Japan’s densely crowded metropolitan areas. 

The Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido was selected for its natural beauty, whereas the Hokuriku region is renowned for its Samurai culture. The prefectures of Tottori and Shimane made the list too, as they’re the birthplace of Japan’s founding history, along with the Nara prefecture, known for its abundance of early emperor palaces. 

All 11 destinations offer exceptional nature, history, and Japanese culture. The government plans to promote and support the areas so they can better cater to tourists. You can read more about the plan on the tourism ministry’s webpage here

For all the latest travel tips, guides and inspiration, check out our Travel hub here. If you’ve got your heart set on a trip to Japan, take a look at our ultimate rail itinerary for first-time visitors.

Did you see our guide to the most underrated destinations to visit in Japan?

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