National

Japan to promote LGBT tourism in disaster-hit Tohoku

JIJI

The Reconstruction Agency is launching an initiative in the hopes of drawing LGBT tourists to the Tohoku region as it looks to attract more foreign visitors.

The agency believes that tourism information can quickly spread throughout the LGBT community once the region, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, garners a reputation as a good tourist destination within the group.

It plans to offer seminars on how to create an appropriate environment to welcome LGBT travelers for lodging operators in Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures.

Specifically, the agency will provide general information on the LGBT community, the size of the market, products and services related to the group and introduce marketing ideas, such as the promotion of weddings for same-sex couples at hotels.

The agency also plans to offer promotional tours in which participants will visit sightseeing spots in Tohoku and stay at LGBT-friendly hotels.

The number of nights spent by foreign visitors in Japan in 2017 stood at 71,805,000, up about threefold from the level in 2010, but the growth in the number of overseas tourists in Tohoku was smaller, around twofold, according to data from the Japan Tourism Agency.

For fiscal 2018, the Reconstruction Agency has selected 10 projects it hopes will increase the number of visitors from abroad, including the one targeting LGBT tourists.

It will set up a travel website for LGBT people and place Tohoku promotion ads in magazines that are popular within the community.

“We hope LGBT tourism will take root in Tohoku” and develop into a profitable business, an official at the agency said.