JTA dangles subsidies for travel companies that design nature-oriented tours

JIJI

The Japan Tourism Agency will step up support for companies that develop nature-oriented travel products such as kayaking and trekking adventures that cater to foreign visitors.

The agency aims to establish good examples of tours that allow visitors to enjoy Japan’s abundant nature, including satoyama (village forests), rivers, coastlines and the indigenous fauna and flora.

It hopes to make such tours a pillar of the experience-based tourism Japan is promoting to boost tourist spending. It expects to receive proposals for specific tours and provide subsidies to cover some of the costs.

For example, the agency envisions mountain-climbing tours featuring explanations about alpine flora from multilingual guides, sources said. Other possibilities include tours combining outdoors activities such as snorkeling with dining opportunities like barbecuing.

It is preparing to secure funds for a model project for such tours in its budget request for fiscal 2019 starting April, the sources said.

As part of the project, trial tours with multilingual guides will be conducted. The agency will take surveys to gauge participants’ satisfaction and evaluate the economic effects of the tours.

Through surveys, the agency is trying to understand the needs of foreign travelers during nature activities. it will also survey domestic tour organizers about the scale of their businesses and their experiences dealing with foreign travelers.

The results will be compiled by the end of March and applied to the model project before it gets underway in fiscal 2019.