Japan’s adventure travel industry warmly welcomed the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) to Hokkaido this week, as the four-day event kicked off on Monday with plenaries, meetings and other activities at the Sapporo Convention Center.
National and local stakeholders shared their joy that Japan’s northernmost island was chosen as the first venue in Asia, where they voiced their hope that the hosting will spur the development of adventure travel across the country.
“Hosting ATWS presents an opportunity for people to realise the potential of adventure travel in Japan,” Tetsuo Saito, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, told delegates, adding that Hokkaido is “a treasure trove of adventure travel resources” that allows for diverse activities such as trekking, kayaking, snowshoeing, wildlife watching and learning about the indigenous Ainu people.
Moreover, Japan’s 3,000km-long archipelago, which stretches from the subarctic zone in Hokkaido to the tropical zone in Okinawa, can offer inbound visitors a whole range of outdoor activities, from skiing to snorkelling, added Atsumi Gamo, president of the Japan National Tourism Organization.
By holding seven of the 22 pre-summit adventures outside Hokkaido, the ATWS has also helped expand the domestic network of industry players, to help develop adventure travel in Japan, added Takeshi Mizuguchi, director of the international tourism division at the Hokkaido District Transport Bureau.
Industry players also noted that advancing adventure tourism in Japan can help the country tackle some of its pressing tourism issues, including overtourism, because adventure travel is more prevalent in nature-rich areas that are off the beaten path.
For Hokkaido, ATWS is also an opportunity to engage with delegates from the European and North American markets whose inbound numbers have been slow to grow in the prefecture, said Kenji Koganezawa, chair of the Hokkaido Tourism Organization and member of the AWTS Hokkaido Executive Committee.
“We hope the summit will fuel people’s adventure spirit and serve as a place for new encounters and discoveries,” he said.