Japan’s Kyoto braces for influx of international tourists


Japan’s ancient city of Kyoto has long been a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists. However, in recent years, the city has been bracing itself for an influx of international visitors, as tourism numbers continue to rise. With its rich cultural heritage and stunning historical sites, it’s no wonder that Kyoto is becoming increasingly popular among travelers from all over the world.

The city of Kyoto, located in the Kansai region of Japan, was once the capital of the country and is known for its well-preserved historical sites, traditional wooden machiya houses, and beautiful cherry blossom trees. It is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the historic Gion district, famous for its geisha culture.

In recent years, Japan’s tourism industry has been booming, with the number of international visitors increasing year after year. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan saw a record-breaking 31.9 million foreign tourists, with Kyoto being one of the top destinations. However, this sudden surge in visitors has put a strain on the city’s infrastructure and resources, leading to concerns about overtourism and the preservation of Kyoto’s cultural heritage.

To manage the influx of tourists, the city of Kyoto has implemented various measures to ensure the sustainable growth of tourism. One such initiative is the introduction of a tourist tax, which was launched in October 2018. The tax requires visitors to pay 200 yen (approximately $2) per night for accommodations within the city, with the revenue going towards the improvement of tourism-related facilities and services.

In addition to the tourist tax, the city has also restricted access to certain areas and introduced a reservation system for popular attractions, such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This helps to control the number of visitors and prevent overcrowding, ensuring a better experience for both tourists and locals.

Furthermore, the city has been actively promoting sustainable tourism practices. This includes encouraging tourists to explore off-the-beaten-path areas and promoting environmentally-friendly transportation options, such as walking or cycling. Kyoto also offers a wide range of cultural activities and experiences, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history and traditions.

Despite these efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted tourism in Kyoto, as international travel restrictions and safety concerns have limited the number of visitors. However, as countries gradually reopen and travel resumes, it is expected that the city will once again face a surge in tourism.

As Kyoto prepares for the return of international tourists, it is crucial for the city to strike a balance between attracting visitors and preserving its cultural heritage. Sustainable tourism practices, such as limiting the number of visitors and promoting responsible travel, will be essential in ensuring the long-term sustainability of Kyoto’s tourism industry.

By implementing these measures, Kyoto can continue to be a top destination for international tourists while preserving its unique charm and cultural heritage. With its ancient temples, traditional tea houses, and picturesque gardens, Kyoto offers visitors a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and traditions. As the city adapts to the challenges of increasing tourism, it remains a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Japanese experience.

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