National

Toilet manners and traffic jams are top concerns amid Japan tourism boom, say local governments

KYODO

Traffic jams and tourists’ manners are recognized by many of Japan’s tourist destinations as major issues that need to be addressed amid the sharp increase in foreign visitors in recent years, a government survey showed Wednesday.

The Japan Tourism Agency survey, conducted in October and November on tourism issues faced by local governments, showed that while a shortage of accommodation and emergency preparedness are common problems, they are also struggling with the drawbacks of the inbound tourism boom.

Of 138 municipalities in areas with popular tourism destinations, 38.4 percent said issues that need to be addressed include traffic jams caused by an increased number of sightseeing buses.

Some 25.4 percent cited tourists’ restroom manners as a problem, while 20.3 percent listed littering in public places and residential areas.

The agency said, however, that overtourism is not a severe problem in the country compared with other international tourist destinations.

As for measures to deal with the surge in visitors, 44.2 percent of municipalities are cooperating with prefectural governments to spread the flow of tourists more evenly, and 42.8 percent are promoting the use of rental bicycles, according to the survey.

In fiscal 2018, the estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan grew 6.2 percent to 31.62 million.

The government has set a target of attracting 40 million foreign visitors annually by 2020, when Japan hosts the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.