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Japan targets national parks as next big tourism draw (2017/03/22)

Japan’s Environment Ministry wants to capitalise on the country’s tourism boom, unveiling plans to draw 10 million overseas visitors to its national parks on an annual basis by 2020 – the year of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.  According to the Japan National Tourist Organisation (JNTO), the estimated number of international travelers to Japan in 2016 reached 24 million visitors - a 21.8 per cent increase on 2015’s figures and the highest numbers since JNTO started its records in 1964.  For Japan’s 33 national parks, overseas visitors totalled 4,902,000 in 2015 and 5,457,000 in 2016, with the ambitious project aiming to double those figures in the next four years.  Eight parks have been initially selected for the project, which calls for the training of tour guides, developing experience-oriented tour plans, opening new cafés and upgrading signs to help foreigners.  The eight parks will also work out a joint strategy to lure foreign tourists, with the remaining 25 national park teams then using that information to apply the same strategy.  The park that attracted the most visitors in 2016 was the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which drew nearly 2.6 million foreign visitors.  Other popular parks, also included in the initial eight are the Shikotsu-Toya National Park in Hokkaido, which drew 827,000 foreign visitors, and the Aso-Kuju National Park in the Kyushu area, which welcomed 675,000.  The campaign is the latest in a number of tourism strategies from Japan, including plans to designate 88 “animation spots” nationwide in places where popular anime and manga characters are presented, some of which are located inside national parks.

 
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