Tada Noriko, the Director of the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau, and Brad Towle, Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau’s International Tourism Promotion and Development director, were invited to be members of an advisory committee concerning the Wakayama Prefecture Tourism Promotion Action Plan.
The committee will be composed of 30 tourism professionals from private, public, and academic sectors. Some of the topics to be discussed will be tourism development, and rural & international tourism promotion.
Some of the issues and comments that the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau is planning to bring to the table include the following:
(This list is not in any order of importance)
l Independent travellers are increasing and important for Wakayama Prefecture. They need good information to travel.
l Transportation Information in English
àbus stops, timetables, announcements on busses and trains, etc.
l Wider area information at information centers (for example, Kumano Information at Koyasan, Koya Information in Kumano, etc)
l English on signs. (for example at temples, museums, etc)
l English is most widely known language and is the universal language for tourism. At least do everything in English first before other languages.
l Make English information easy to understand for foreign visitors. For example, try to avoid direct translation.
l Preserve scenery. Too many power lines at beautiful areas. Ugly signs. Too much concrete.
l Preserve Japanese culture. Wakayama is cultural destination. Do not over adapt or destroy.
l Preserve the environment: nature, rivers, coastline, forest etc. Destroying natural beauty destroys Wakayama’s tourism potential.
l Preserve and restore old houses (古民家) especially along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. These can be used as future guesthouses for pilgrims.
l Visitors are searching for an authentic rural Japanese experience.
l Include Romaji and English on maps and pamphlets.
l Use Wakayama University Tourism Faculty students to do research. For example surveying pilgrim numbers, etc. on the Kumano Kodo. Quality data is important for future research and monitoring.
l Create professional licensing system for guides. Need to have high standards. Local guides are very important.
l Train more guides to make a living. Move away from volunteer guides.
l Must support local guides and young entrepreneurs.
l Use tourism to create jobs.
l Translate restaurant menus. Include English on gourmet maps. For example, maguro map in Katsuura.
l If there are language tools and support systems in place it is easier to promote Wakayama and its authentic rural Japanese experience.
Our Bureau would like Wakayama Prefecture for inviting us to be a part of the advisory committee and the future of tourism in region.