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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

An island in Japan is about to impose a tourism ban to protect its native wild cats

Visiting one of Japan’s most beautiful islands will soon become more complex.

Iriomote in Okinawa Prefecture will limit visitors to 1,200 per day to prevent over-tourism and protect the habitat of the Iriomote wild cat, an endangered species native to the island, according to a statement from the Okinawa prefectural government.

In a typical pre-pandemic year, about 300,000 travelers visited Iriomote, with a population of just 2,400. The new limits will significantly reduce that number, as only 33,000 tourists are allowed to visit each year.

A rush of visitors at peak times of the year has resulted in water shortages and traffic accidents, the latter of which has injured and killed several nationally protected Japanese feral cats.

However, restrictions on over-tourism have yet to become official law – for now, “local authorities (tourism companies) urge cooperation.”

Iriomote, Okinawa’s second largest island and part of the Yaeyama Islands, is known for its pristine natural beauty.

The island is geographically closer to Taiwan than most of Japan and has a warm climate year-round, making it a popular snorkeling, diving, swimming, and hiking destination.

In addition to general restrictions on visitors to the island, the prefectural government has confirmed that five UNESCO World Heritage sites around Okinawa will be restricted next year, including Mount Komi and the Nishida River.

This website may be subject to restrictions on travel, entry times, and reservations.

Japan has reopened more slowly than other countries since the pandemic. The country began welcoming small groups of tourists approved in June 2022 before reopening four months later.

Tourism is back, but so is overtourism

Overtourism was a travel buzzword before the pandemic and is now a hot topic as countries worldwide see tourists rushing back.

Another endangered island that needs protection is Komodo Island in Indonesia, home to the Komodo dragon.

The Indonesian government has made it difficult to see the world’s most giant lizard by charging 3.75 million rupiahs ($252) for tourists visiting the island.

The island initially planned to ban tourists entirely but opted for a quota and fee system.

And it’s not just Asia struggling with too many visitors.

Eager to rid itself of its “sex and drugs” reputation, Amsterdam has shifted its tourism strategy by launching the so-called “stay away” campaign.

The initiative is aimed at a specific type of “disturbing tourist,” such as aspiring bachelorette party planners from the UK.

For example, if a web user in the UK searches for a term like “bar crawl in Amsterdam,” a video ad will appear to warn them about the potential risk of errors abroad, e.g., B. go to the hospital or be arrested.

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