Japan draws focus on new Kyushu route to combat over influx of travellers

JTB Global Marketing & Travel is stepping up efforts to counter over-tourism in Japan with the third in a series of tours designed to showcase the country’s lesser known spots.

The Japan-based DMC collaborated with the cities of Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Kagoshima to create the new Kyushu Authentic Route, which follows the sale of its Rainbow Route (Tokyo to Kyoto via Kanagawa) in autumn 2022 and Setouchi Scenic View Route (connecting Hiroshima and Shikoku via the Seto Inland Sea) in spring 2023.

Japan hopes to attract more visitors to the Kyushu region; Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture, pictured (Photo: Kagoshima Prefectural Visitors Bureau)

JTB says it is “developing new inbound routes with the aim of creating new flows of visitors to Japan” and tackling over-tourism, which it says “has an unacceptable negative impact on the lives of local residents, the natural environment or the landscape, or significantly reduces the level of tourist satisfaction”.

Enticing visitors to move off Japan’s Golden Route (typically Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto; sometimes also Hiroshima, Nara or Mount Fuji) is a high-priority for Japan’s travel industry. In 2018, the top three prefectures for share of total consumption by inbound visitors were Osaka (46.2 per cent), Tokyo (44.8 per cent) and Kyoto (29.2 per cent), according to a Japan Tourism Agency white paper.

The Kyushu Authentic Route, to be sold under national travel agent JTB’s Sunrise Tours brand, offers two three-day-two-night options (one introducing historic and traditional spots, the other offering cycling in scenic areas) and a four-day-three-night option focused on local food and drink.

Each tour will enable guests to “feel the value of getting a deeper insight into Japan’s history and culture” according to JTB. “In Kagoshima, you can feel the energy of Sakurajima, an active volcano; in Fukuoka, you can enjoy spectaculars views of the sea and Shikanoshima (an island connected to the mainland by a causeway); and, in Fukuoka, you can feel the essence of ‘the City of Water’ at Suizenji Ezu Lake Park.”

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