Nine officials from Wakayama Prefecture spent 2.4 million yen in public funds on a mostly sightseeing trip to Hawaii in May but claimed it was to study tourism, local officials said Tuesday.
The mayors of Shirahama, Kushimoto and five other towns and villages, and two accompanying staff members claimed they went on the trip because they anticipated increased tourism in the prefecture after its traditional pilgrimage routes were registered as a World Heritage site.
The officials said, however, that the nine left Kansai airport on May 10 for Honolulu on a five-day trip with an itinerary mainly filled with sightseeing, except for some meetings.
They toured the Diamond Head volcanic crater on the day of their arrival and attended parties with local mayors and business leaders the following day.
“Registration for the World Heritage list is likely to boost international exchanges,” said an official at the association of the Nishimuro area municipalities that organized the trip.