Foreign tourists bring troubles along with fortune to Japan

As per reports, more than 30 million visitors came to Japan in 2018, part of a prolonged tourism boom that has brought around USD 41 billion a year to regions across the country.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to bring 40 million overseas visitors to Japan by 2020. Though boom in tourism has brought fortune for the country, the residents are worried about the rising prices, unruly behaviour of the tourist and other disturbances come along with more overseas visitors.

In some places the revenue earned from tourism is critical. Some 40 per cent of visitors go to the Kansai region in western Japan, netting the area more than USD 9 billion a year in tourist spending.

Central Osaka’s uniquely designed Umeda Sky Building, which was named one of the top 20 buildings around the world by The Times newspaper of the UK, has attracted about 1.5 million guests in fiscal 2017, three times more than in 2008. Foreigners make up 75 per cent of the building’s visitors, and the admission fee more than doubled to 1,500 yen in March 2015 from 700 yen, in anticipation of more overseas visitors.

Umeda Sky Building

However, locals have been complaining about the hike in price. Some Japanese say the price is too high and it keeps them from visiting the building. There has been around 30 per cent decline in domestic tourists in the building during 2017.

Prices are also surging at Kuromon market, a food market renowned as the “kitchen of Osaka.” High-end crab legs, for example, can cost as much as 2,000 yen a pop. But, even foreign tourists complain about the high prices, saying they would rather go to a regular restaurant than paying thousands of yen on crab legs.

Most of the foreign tourists have behaviour of eating while walking, which is uncommon in Japan.  Last autumn, Kyoto’s Nishiki market started putting up signs in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, urging shoppers to refrain from eating while walking, with a view to avoid littering in streets. The market’s promotion association is calling on its tenants to set up more garbage cans and dining spaces.

Accidents and traffic jams created by foreign drivers also a menace in Japan. It is reported that tourists has rented about 80,000 cars in the region, a five-fold increase from five years earlier.

The growing number of foreign visitors staying in private homes is also causing trouble, with residents complaining about noise and other annoyances.

Rakuten Communications, a unit of online retail giant Rakuten, developed a system that displays “Please be quiet” in multiple languages on tablet computers in hotel rooms when noise is detected.

Though these issues are persistent, Japan has to brace a record number of foreign visitors as the Tokyo Olympics coming up in 2020.

Businesses and communities throughout Japan are taking measures to manage the influx in a safe and sustainable way ahead of the Olympics games.