Kyoto to require local resident acceptance of new hotels, to tackle “tourist pollution”

The city of Kyoto has announced a policy that will require new hotels and other lodging establishments to receive prior acceptance by local residents in order to operate. The new rules are slated to go into effect after the start of fiscal 2020 year and are meant to curb “tourism pollution” in the wake of surging inbound tourism numbers.

The city seeks to maintain safety, security, and the preservation of local culture for its residents in the face of a big increase in overseas tourists. Residents have cited issues like jammed public buses and a lack of respect for local rules.

In 2018, about 53.6 million people visited Kyoto, a 2.9% increase compared to 2016. Foreign visitors spending at least one night at a registered Kyoto hotel or inn accounted for 3.53 million of the total, a jump of 11% compared to 2016.

At a press conference on November 20th, the mayor of Kyoto said that the city has resolved the shortage of hotels, which was a major issue until a few years ago, and is implementing this new policy in order to better balance the economic benefits of tourism with residents’ quality of life. The mayor noted that Kyoto plans to refuse the entry of hotels and other lodging facilities that do not place importance on the safety and security of residents living nearby, or that negatively impact local culture.

Shifting land use to offices and start-up support

Starting in  the fiscal 2020 year, the city plans to increase the number of briefing sessions given to local residents before a new hotel can be established in a neighborhood. Local authorities also intend to use local ordinances and building codes to more strictly control the establishment of new lodging facilities. More specific measures are also in the works.

The city would like to shift land use away from the excessive establishment of lodging establishments and more towards offices and R&D facilities. One idea would be to repurpose empty elementary schools for office use or as centers to support start-up businesses.

The city will also set a comprehensive support window by the end of this year to provide real estate information to businesses that want to start or grow businesses in the city.

Dealing with congestion and big crowds

To deal with the problem of overly crowded public busses, the city is considering offering local residents free bus rides if they take less congested lines.

This holiday season, the city also plans to use AI to forecast crowd numbers for popular tourist attractions and to share this information online.

Source: Nikkei newspaper, November 20, 2019

Lead photo: Tourists in Kyoto via ITMedia

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