White Paper Seeks to Promote Rural Areas to Foreigners

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A crowd including many foreign tourists is seen in Osaka on May 2.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government stressed in an annual report Tuesday the need to attract more foreign visitors to rural areas in the country, reducing their concentration in large cities.

Foreign tourists stay and spend money mainly in the country’s three metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, according to the 2024 white paper on tourism, adopted at the day’s Cabinet meeting.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2023 came to about 25.07 million, about 80% of the level in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, with their travel spending hitting a record high of ¥5,306.5 billion. But about 70% of accommodations for such visitors were located in the three metropolitan areas.

The white paper said that eliminating such concentration in big cities will lead to regional revitalization and help curb overtourism, preventing an excessive influx of tourists from seriously affecting the daily lives of local residents and the environment.

As measures to attract foreign visitors to rural areas, the white paper cited the creation of experience-based programs that make use of local nature, traditional culture and food, the dissemination of information on wide-area tour routes and the addition of extra value to accommodation facilities.