PARIS: On a first trip to Japan, this island destination is a must for people visiting the south of the country’s main island, where the city of Hiroshima is located. From here, a train takes visitors to the ferry boarding point for the island of Miyajima.
This sacred island is recommended by many guidebooks not only for its mystical atmosphere, but also for its magnificent scenery.
In fact, it’s here where visitors snap one of Japan’s most photographed landmarks, a torii (a traditional gateway to a Shinto shrine) whose base is submerged when the tide is high. This ‘floating’ gate part of the Itsukushima Shrine, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The destination’s popularity has not wavered since the reopening of the country’s borders a year ago.
Between January and August this year, 2.93 million people visited the island of Miyajima, according to the NHK news network, relaying data from the municipality of Hatsukaichi, which oversees this tourist mecca.
A success that perfectly illustrates Japan’s appeal to international visitors. In July, the country recorded its highest number of visitors since the pandemic, with 2.3 million, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO).
In addition, the number of visitors who chose to come between January and June of this year was 21 times higher than last year, standing at 10,712,000.
In light of this, the municipality managing Miyajima has decided to apply an entrance tax with the aim of making it a more sustainable destination, according to the NHK news network.
The tax applies to tourists only, and is integrated directly into the price of the ferry ticket required to reach the sacred island. However, this additional expense is not intended to discourage visitors, amounting to just 100 yen, or around US$0.67.
By next March, the destination hopes to have collected some 104 million yen in order to undertake maintenance work, notably on the island’s toilets and ferry terminals.
The Kanpai blog also reports that this budget will enable the installation of WiFi hotspots.
In Japan, many tourist sites are considering the introduction of a tax on travelers. For several months now, there has been talk of limiting the number of hikers accessing Mount Fuji.
The starting point of this hiking route welcomed some four million people this summer, an increase of 50% on 2013.
Also, in Kyoto, public transport tickets could soon cost visitors more if the municipality’s plan to establish a different fare structure for tourists and locals goes ahead.