Cherry blossom season

Cherry blossom season is known for attracting tourists to any city that has these ornamental cherry trees. More than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C each year for its National Cherry Blossom Festival, and Japan also experiences an influx of millions of tourists when the trees begin to bloom in March.

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Roof gardens on taxis in Thailand

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed down tourism in Thailand, thousands of taxis were abandoned by their drivers. No tourists equals no taxis. Drivers lost their income and couldn't afford to pay the rental fees for their cars. Companies struggled to stay afloat. The Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi co-ops together ended up with 2500 (out of 3000) cars sitting idle in parking lots. The Thai government offered no financial support.

Faced with this situation, the Ratchapruk and Bovorn Taxi co-ops decided to join forces to create rooftop gardens on the idle taxis. They built bamboo frames and stretched black plastic bags over them. The frames were then filled with soil. Co-op staff have grown a variety of crops in these small gardens, including tomatoes, cucumbers and string beans. 

Time-free zone

The 350 residents of Sommarøy are declaring the small Norwegian island the world’s first time-free zone.

“All over the world, people are characterised by stress and depression,” Kjell Ove Hveding, the leader of the campaign, said. “In many cases, this can be linked to the feeling of being trapped by the clock. We will be a time-free zone where everyone can live their lives to the fullest. Our goal is to provide full flexibility, 24/7. If you want to cut the lawn at 4am, then you can do it.” 

Sommarøy spends November to January in darkness, but in summer, residents know that when the sun rises on 18 May, it will not set again until 26 July. “Here we enjoy every minute of the midnight sun, and yes, a coffee with friends on the beach at 2am is a normal thing.”

Visitors to Sommarøy have reportedly embraced the idea enthusiastically, with some abandoning their watches and attaching them to a bridge leading to the island.

Tourists cause headaches in Japan

Until recently, Japan didn’t have much of an influx of foreign tourists. Now, it does, and with that comes problems.

For much of the 20th and 21st century, foreign tourism in Japan didn’t really exist. Now, with the rise of Japan’s neighbors in Asia, the country has seen an influx of travelers like never before. In 2018, a record number of 32 million foreign tourists visited Japan, with over fifty percent from mainland China and South Korea. In comparison, less than 5 million foreign tourists visited in 2001. In 1970 there were only 854,000.

This sudden spike has caused growing pains, such as overcrowding and hotel shortages, and conflicts caused by cultural differences over things like smoking and garbage.

Osaka will host 2025 World Expo

The Japanese city of Osaka has been selected to host the World Expo in 2025, an event expected to draw millions of visitors and showcase the local economy and culture. The theme for the 2025 World Expo is finding solutions to challenges facing humanity.

Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said in a statement that the country will make an utmost effort to "achieve a magnificent expo in Osaka that would give dreams and surprises to everyone in the world." Hosting a world expo in Japan would be "a golden opportunity to promote fascinating charms of Japan to the rest of the world," Abe said.

World Expos, which are held every five years, can last up to six months and cost millions of dollars to host, but can help put a city on the global map by bringing in international visitors and attention.

Japan—2018 Destination of the Year

Think about what you look for when you’re deciding on the perfect travel destination. Is it rich history? Cultural experiences? Lots of delicious food or shopping opportunities? Comfortable and unique places to stay? Or, perhaps, you just want to go somewhere with truly breathtaking views that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

Guess what? You can find all of this and more in Japan.

Travelers across the globe love to visit the country for its fabulous natural spas, or even its quirkier relaxation offerings like baths of beer, red wine, or even ramen, for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Japan's nightlife

Businesses in Tokyo are continuing to look for ways to get foreign visitors to spend their time and cash on the capital’s wide-ranging nightlife options. Travel agencies are arranging special events for foreign tourists such as taiko (drum) performances, while some hotels are extending the business hours of their restaurants to allow guests to socialize into the early hours.

In January (2018), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it planned to survey foreign tourists on what they enjoy about the capital’s nightlife, including restaurants, theaters and sporting events, to better cater to their interests and encourage spending.

Hospitals' troubles with tourism

The number of tourists to Japan has more than quadrupled since 2009, and the government aims to boost that figure to 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030. But the growing influx is likely to put a greater strain on Japan’s hospitals as many patients from overseas arrive without insurance and are unable to pay for treatment. 

The problem is not limited to cost, however. Communication is also a hurdle, both at hospitals and especially small clinics. While some facilities can conduct treatment in foreign languages, many can only do so in English or Chinese.

Crafts boost tourism

In Takaoka, craft tourism adds to the city’s historical festivals and sights that, according to Toyama Prefecture, are already in the top 10 destinations in terms of increases in tourist numbers in the region. Although there are no official figures on Takaoka’s overall drive to promote local industries, the new Nousaku foundry alone has welcomed approximately 110,000 visitors since it opened.

The Nousaku outreach project is just one of many contributions to Takaoka industrial tourism, an initiative that the city has ramped up over the past decade with open-factory tours, hands-on workshops and the introduction of new contemporary goods. And it appears to be hitting the right notes.

Too many tourists in Japan

In 2016 the Japanese government set ambitious targets for foreign visitors as a way to generate economic growth as the population ages and shrinks. The government is on track to reach its goal of 40 million visitors by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympics.

But the rapid growth has brought problems, most obviously a shortage of labour. Relatively few Japanese are able to converse smoothly in English or other foreign languages. Most companies rely on point-sheets, translation apps or telephone services to communicate with guests.

There are cultural barriers, too. Shizue Usui, the head of Nikko’s association of okami—female hosts at inns—says they tend to think “tradition should be maintained.” That often boils down to rigid rules about check-in, meal times and other services.