Japan Travel Agencies Ally Towards Responsible Tourism

The association of like-minded travel operators and stakeholders aims to strengthen responsible tourism in Japan through education, certification and collective support.

KYOTO, 16 May 2018.  A few travel operators have come together to strike an alliance to promote responsible tourism in Japan.

The inauguration ceremony of Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies, or JARTA in short, is to take place in Kyoto on 28 May 2018.

 Kayaking in the Sea of Japan is a low impact form of travel to visit the sacred islands of the Shinto shrine in Abu, Yamaguchi. Image: Spirit of Japan Travel

Kayaking in the Sea of Japan is a low impact form of travel to visit the sacred islands of the Shinto shrine in Abu, Yamaguchi. Image: Spirit of Japan Travel

JARTA hopes to promote aspects of responsibility and sustainability in tourism and travel with destination marketing organisations (DMOs), tourism associations, local communities, governments and other pertinent stakeholders. This is to benefit the host communities, conserve the environment and contribute to long-term socio-economic gains.

Making a difference

Japan is known for its mass tourism where mainstream packaged products typically bring limited economic gains to the host communities while benefiting only the large travel companies.

In this light, the alliance hopes to develop and market the unique products “to ensure that the positive benefits remain at the host destinations while minimising the negative impacts or so-called unsustainable practices,” said Masaru Takayama, a founding board member of JARTA who is also the Chair of the Asian Ecotourism Network.

JARTA will comprise only fully-licensed travel agencies that are based in Japan who are committed to learning and practising responsible tourism and playing important roles in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “This goes beyond selling tourism products to help create and sell the unique experiences that our buyers and clients also positively contribute to the people and valuable assets in Japan,” added Takayama.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 interconnected goals that address climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.

JARTA commits to become an authority to help educate and train the tourism sector particularly among the travel agencies and tour operators the ways of practising responsible and sustainable tourism in compliance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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This involves introduction to the benchmarking and certification schemes on responsible tourism for the travel and tourism service providers. There will also be a drive towards training and seminars to raise awareness and boost education in sustainability aspects of tourism and travel.

The founding board members of JARTA are as follows:

· Masaru Takayama, Spirit of Japan Travel, Kyoto  

· Kennichiro Iki, Reborn Japan, Saitama

· Yukiko Inoue, Cerca Travel and Tabikyo Japan, Kyoto

· Junji Kametsu, Discover Walks, Fukuoka 

· Kouichiro Suzuki, Hokkaido Treasure Island Travel, Hokkaido  

· Noriko Tada, Kumano Travel, Wakayama 

· Raisa Nishiya, Tabisuke, Aomori  

· Auditor, Kei Tamura, Kyoto

The creation of the alliance also “presents opportunities for collaborative bonds among stakeholders for cross-learning such as DMOs, governments of all sizes, policy makers, tourism associations, educational institutions, local people, local SMEs, and the visitors.”

The branding and target marketing to the responsible tourism sector will be another focus on the agenda of JARTA.

For inquiries, do get in touch with JARTA by emailing to jartasecretariat@gmail.com.