Hyogo Prefecture, in the Kansai region of Japan’s Honshu Island, began promoting its own Golden Route covering Kinosaki, Himeji and Kobe earlier this year, in hopes of boosting arrival numbers.
The original Golden Route refers to a week-long tour popular with first-time visitors to the country, covering Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.
As travel styles and preferences evolve, Hyogo Prefecture is hoping to seize the opportunity to cater to more diverse demands with its own Golden Route.
Akimitsu Mori, a senior officer from the Tourism Division of Industry and Labour Department at Hyogo Prefectural Government, told TTG Asia: “We established these places as the core to promote Hyogo, (with the aim) of increasing the number of visitors to Hyogo, as well as encouraging them to travel around the prefecture.”
Attractions in the area – which is well-connected by trains and buses – include world-renowned Kobe beef, the sake breweries of Nada, UNESCO-listed Himeji Castle, and onsens in Kinosaki.
According to government statistics, in 2016 about 1.5 million foreign visitors visited Hyogo, where Asians made up the bulk of 85.4 per cent, followed by Europe at 4.2 per cent, North America at 4.2 per cent, and Oceania at 1.4 per cent.
Mori indicated that while they have not set particular regional goals, the government hopes to increase overall visitor footfalls to three million by 2020.
Haruka Toyoizumi, a spokesperson from the tourism department from the Kobe Convention & Visitors Association, added: “Our main target are FITs. To lure more, the area has placed information desks in these destinations, and is also providing travellers with free Wi-Fi.”
Aside from FITs, the area – which has hosted incentive groups of up to 1,000 people previously – is also hoping to welcome more tour groups.