Japan promotes rural culinary diversity to combat over-tourism

Financial subsidies to develop regional culinary cultures
2024-05-03
/
/ New Delhi
Japan promotes rural culinary diversity to combat over-tourism
Japan promotes rural culinary diversity to combat over-tourism

The Japanese government considers food and drink an industry with high potential for growth

Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) is stepping up efforts to expand gastronomy tourism as a counteract to shift the traffic from already concentrated traditional tourism centres.
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In a bid to combat overtourism, while appealing to the high-end market and boosting inbound tourism consumption in rural areas, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), an external bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism of Japan, is stepping up efforts to expand gastronomy tourism in rural areas.

According to a press statement by JTA, it will provide financial subsidies in fiscal 2024, April 2024 to March 2025, for the development and promotion of programmes focusing on regional culinary cultures.

The Japanese government considers food and drink an industry with high potential for growth given that inbound visitors spent JPY 1.2 trillion (USD 7.7 billion), on food and drink in 2023, equating to almost one quarter of their total consumption, according to JTA.

The statement adds that support includes up to JPY 50 million per successful applicant to cover the establishment of bases for collecting ingredients, such as wild plants, and for carrying out local cultural experiences.

It adds that advertising, meanwhile, can be carried out overseas, such as on travel websites.

JTA says that as a part of the plan, luxury packages that combine culinary and cultural experiences will also be developed to expand options for “high-value travellers,” categorised by the national tourism agency Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) as those who spend one million yen or more per visit to Japan.

The statement adds that among the regions that could benefit from the subsidies is Nara Prefecture, which trialled six gastronomy tours from October 2023 to January 2024 with support from JTA.

The initiative has been taken as part of a project designed to attract 51 million tourists annually by 2025, adds the statement. The tours introduce Nara as the heartland of sake and matcha, as well as the prefecture that produces the most persimmons.

“The bounty of the nation’s mountains, valleys, rivers and seas differs from region to region, giving tourists myriad opportunities to get to the heart of Japan through their stomachs. That is the essence of gastronomy tourism, a form of travel focused on food nurtured by local ingredients, customs and traditions,” says a representative of JNTO.

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