The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated local economies, pushing a number of businesses in rural areas to the brink of insolvency, if not outright bankruptcy.

Hot-spring towns and ski resorts such as Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture, which are reliant on inbound tourism, have been hit hardest, and there simply aren’t enough local customers to sustain operating facilities deep in the mountains.

The immediate problem these local economies face is the polar opposite of overtourism, and, for as long as the pandemic lingers, there’s never been a better time for rural destinations to consider developing more sustainable forms of tourism.