1. What is Tourism Based Community Development?
Why has tourism based community development become a focus of attention?
In recent years, we have seen heightened interest in community development under collaborative efforts of residents and the government. Community development centered on welfare, disaster prevention, international exchange, etc., is in progress throughout Japan. Resident participation is often the key to improving the quality of government services. One of the areas attracting particular attention is tourism based community development.
What are the anticipated benefits of tourism based community development?
First, it helps to develop a sense of community and purpose in life. There are many people in the community who are willing to share their experience and knowledge with others. Tourism based community development creates new opportunities for self-fulfillment for such people. Those who hear the live voices of these people will also develop stronger attraction to the community.
Second, tourism is beneficial to regional invigoration. Japan has outstanding natural beauty and numerous cultural assets that allow visitors to experience the past. Many people express interest in utilizing these as resources. Troubled by lower populations, both rural and urban communities are tapping into these resources to draw visitors (population exchange), in hopes of invigorating the community. Visitors look forward to attractive destinations with new discoveries.
Another important aspect is that tourism based community development promotes sustainability of precious nature, historical assets, comfortable living environment and local color. Precious regional assets are often at risk. Tourist volumes are projected to rise by leaps and bounds, due to greater leisure time, emphasis on abundance and improved traffic networks. This is a trend observed worldwide. Tours have become diverse, with focus on hands-on experience and special markets such as explorations of untrodden nature. Diversification of tourist needs and targets, however, also brings with it the risk of damaging precious resources and deteriorating the environment for residents. The important issue that confronts us is to maintain the charm of tourist destinations in the face of increasing tourist demands.
Traditional tourism development was centered on economic goals. Destruction of precious community resources and deterioration of the living environment due to trash and traffic congestion often went unchecked, resulting in conflict between visitors, the tourism industry and residents. It is our goal to prevent these conflicts while making available the rich blessings of the region's precious resources to as many people as possible.
What is tourism based community development?
With awareness of these issues, integrated efforts in community development have already begun in some localities. In a famous hot spring resort suffering from decline in visitors, several residents faced stood up to form a community in which they can live with pride.