With Tourism Down, Japanese Cities Question Their Attractions

Japan is struggling to lure tourists, which is causing officials there to rethink how they market their cities and what sorts of attractions they should be offering.
May 8, 2010, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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It's also causing them to wonder about what attractions they shouldn't be offering. A proposed aquarium in Kyoto has sparked controversy over what the city needs to be doing to convince tourists to visit.

"Whether or not Kyoto gets the 118,000-square-foot aquarium, experts say that Japan clearly needs to re-examine its approach to tourism, a $944 billion industry worldwide - bigger than autos, bigger than steel.

Despite choice destinations like ancient Kyoto and modern, bustling Tokyo, as well as beach and ski resorts, Japan attracted just 8.4 million foreign visitors in 2008 - a small fraction of France's 79 million, the United States' 58 million or China's 53 million, according to the World Tourism Organization. In 2009, the number of foreign visitors to Japan dropped an additional 18.7 percent, to 6.79 million, amid the global recession, according to Japan's government."

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Published on Saturday, May 8, 2010 in The New York Times
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