Nagasaki: More High School Trips Head to Kyushu amid Pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
High school students take a group photo in Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown on a school trip in July in Nagasaki.

NAGASAKI — Kyushu has soared in popularity for high school trips due to COVID-19. The region has offered a safe alternative to Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture, where many people were infected with the virus. Nagasaki in particular has seen a boom in such trips.

According to the latest ranking of prefectures as destinations for high school trips, compiled by the Japan school excursion association, Nagasaki Prefecture retained its first place ranking in fiscal 2021.

In fiscal 2019, before the pandemic, the prefecture came in eighth. While the fiscal 2022 ranking has yet to be released, the prefecture apparently has kept its pull on the trips.

In the fiscal 2021 ranking, three Kyushu prefectures finished in the top 10, with Fukuoka in fourth and Kumamoto in eighth. In fiscal 2019, Fukuoka ranked 10th and Kumamoto 18th.

Okinawa Prefecture, which had been the most popular destination for high school trips for years, came in fifth. The fall might have come from factors unique to remote islands, such as the difficulty of returning home when someone gets infected, as well as the surge in infections.

According to the Kyushu Tourism Organization, school trips are drawn to the region because it offers many programs to learn about peace, history and culture. Some areas have experienced tragedy, as in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and the 2016 earthquake in Kumamoto, and high schools cherish the opportunity to teach students the value of life.

Will boom times last?

However, locals see a challenge ahead.

“If we do nothing, things will quickly go back to how they were,” said an official at the Nagasaki International Tourism and Convention Association. “We want to attract repeat tourists and cultivate tourism to make the best of this opportunity.”