Seven travel companies unite for responsible tourism

In a way to promote sustainable tourism that helps the local communities, seven travel companies with similar interests have associated to form Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies (JARTA). The initiative will be launched in Kyoto on June 28th. The purpose of JARTA is to design tours and sell destinations that belong to Japan’s traditional ‘Golden Route’, simultaneously aiding the local areas and the people in a great way. As per Masaru Takayama, President of Kyoto-based Spirit of Japan Travel, the association is special as most of the travel agencies wish to work independently.

The members of JARTA include Spirit of Japan Travel, Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel, Tabisuke, Discover Kyushu Walks, Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau, Reborn Japan in Saitama Prefecture and Tabikyo Japan. JARTA also plans to create an online platform which will enable the members to share information and offer more agents the opportunity to be responsible travel companies. The association will also hold exchange, networking and cross-learning events to better the management and operations of sustainable and responsible tourism.

JARTA will also hold exchange, networking and cross-learning events to improve the operations and management of sustainable and responsible tourism, as well as run study sessions to look at criteria set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Reports suggest that responsible tourism in Japan is growing at 30 per cent per annum. The number of repeat visitors who seeks new experiences and destinations are also rising. “More than 30 million foreign travellers are expected to visit Japan this year and a number of cities, notably Tokyo and Kyoto, are already experiencing “overtourism”. We want to make a difference by selling the right kind of travel packages featuring local destinations to responsible travellers in a way that also helps people living and working in those regions” said Takayama.

“We have been trying to provide an alternative view of Japan for the past five years, particularly of spiritual places, in order to give visitors a better understanding of the authentic Japan,” said Kei Tamura, Director of Tabikyo Japan.