Osaka opens tourism bureau to boost foreign visitors


The Osaka prefectural and municipal governments and local business organizations jointly have opened a tourism bureau tasked with more than quadrupling the prefecture’s annual number of foreign travelers to 6.5 million by 2020.

The tourism office, which opened Monday, is financed by a ¥750 million investment split between the three parties and runs separately from similar public entities. It is headed by Kunio Kano, 68, former regional director for Japan and South Korea with the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Declaring an initial-year target of 2.6 million visitors for 2013, Kano said he “will resign” if he fails to meet the goal. In 2011, the prefecture had approximately 1.58 million foreign visitors.

Among the opening ceremony’s attendees for the bureau’s office in Chuo Ward, Osaka, were traditional art performers, including noh theater actors and bunraku puppeteers, as well as the local character representing good luck, Billiken, a statue of which resides in the city’s iconic Tsutenkaku Tower.