Japan grapples with traffic jams, visitors' manners amid tourism boom

Kyodo News

Posted at Jun 12 2019 11:32 PM

Traffic jams and tourists' manners are recognized by many of Japan's tourist destinations as major issues that need to be addressed amid the sharp increase in foreign visitors in recent years, a government survey showed Wednesday.

The Japan Tourism Agency survey, conducted in October and November on tourism issues faced by local governments, showed that while a shortage of accommodation and emergency preparedness are common problems, they are also struggling with the drawbacks of the inbound tourism boom.

Of 138 municipalities in areas with popular tourist destinations, 38.4 percent said issues that need to be addressed include traffic jams caused by increased sightseeing buses.

Some 25.4 percent cited tourists' manners as a problem in relation to the use of restrooms, while 20.3 percent listed littering in public places and residential areas.

The agency said, however, "overtourism" is not a severe problem compared with other international tourist destinations.

As for measures to deal with the surge in visitors, 44.2 percent of municipalities are cooperating with prefectural governments to spread tourist flows more evenly, and 42.8 percent are promoting the use of rental bicycles, according to the survey.

In fiscal 2018, the estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan grew 6.2 percent to 31.62 million.

Japan has set a target of attracting 40 million foreign visitors each year by 2020, when Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.