Japan's tourism industry is booming at the moment, but there are rural communities that have not seen the fruits of this growth. Tourism makes up less than 2 per cent of Japan's GDP.
One of them is Oita Prefecture in southern Japan. The area, which boasts the largest hot springs in the country, is slowly becoming a popular tourist destination for those coming from Asia, especially South Koreans.
Many hotels in the area have said they are now changing their strategy.
"Japanese customers will be fewer due to the declining population. The young Japanese do not travel much. But among foreign visitors, there's a hot spring boom," said Yoichi Nishida, president of Hotel Shiragiku.
But Mr Nishida said Japan should not just rely on South Korean and Chinese tourists.
Historical and territorial disputes between Japan and some of its neighbours have hurt inbound tourism. Oita is refocusing its attention on countries that are neither involved nor greatly bothered by the disputes. But in order to do that, Oita would have to demonstrate that it has more to offer than hot springs.
Another attraction in Oita is Usa Shrine. It may not be as famous as the other Japanese shrines, but the almost 1,300-year-old building is positioned as one of the top three shrines to visit in Japan. A majority of the 1.3 million visitors that have gone to the shrine are Japanese but during the past decade, foreign visitors have been increasing.
source by channelnewsasia