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03. “Becoming a Hub for Exchanges”





[July 10, 2015]  Fukuoka Growth 2015-2016 GlobalCityStatus Relay Column   View this post in pdf pdficon_small (728KB, Japanese)

Column 03. Becoming a Hub for Exchanges
— Creating Appeal to Attract People from Throughout the World —

(by Shinichi KAJIHARA, Managing Director)
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of visitors to Japan grew from 10.36 million in 2013 to 13.41 million in 2014, an increase of 29.4%. Based on statistics from the Economy, Tourism, and Culture Bureau of Fukuoka City announced in March 2015, the number of people who entered Japan through Fukuoka City surpassed 1.20 million, increasing 33% from the 900,000 people for the previous year and hitting an historic high. It appears that because of the weaker yen, the number of visitors to Japan from almost all countries increased, but growth was strongest for those from China. Residents of Fukuoka who have called the city home for some time probably feel that there has been an increase in the number of times they hear foreign languages, such as Chinese, while out and about in the city. Even the Fukuoka Asian Urban Research Center hosted one teacher and fourteen students from Hong Kong who came to study Fukuoka City’s urban development in late June, and they noted that one of the reasons they selected Fukuoka was because it was inexpensive on account of the weaker yen.
There is a lot of discussion about how Japan’s response to its declining population will impact the future of the country. For Fukuoka City, however, the population is expected to grow for the time being, but the size of the working-age population is already contracting, and the number of elderly is sure to increase. Therefore, it is necessary for the city to attract tourists from overseas and increase the non-resident population in order to maintain the city’s vitality into the future.
Using a basic concept that was set in 1987, Fukuoka City has formulated an urban development plan in which it will take the lead in becoming an Asian hub for exchanges. Since then, the city has steadily promoted Asia-oriented internationalization through various efforts such as ones related to international exchanges, including creation of the Fukuoka Prize, and operating the Beatle boat service between Fukuoka and Busan (Korea). Japan is currently drawing the attention of people throughout the world because of the weaker yen and its hosting of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and this is a major chance for Fukuoka City to take a further large step toward becoming a global hub for exchanges.
By April 2015, the Cruise Center at the Chuo Warf, which was constructed to handle the growing number of arrivals and departures of large cruise ships and to smooth immigration procedures, was completed, and work to respond to the greater number of visitors to Japan was underway at a furious pace, which included department stores opening airport duty free shops and more stores providing currency-exchange services. In the future, there are plans to develop infrastructure, such as facilities and public transportation, and the city of Fukuoka is transforming itself in order to enter a new stage of internationalization.
In 2016, Fukuoka City will host the Lions Club International Conference. It is expected that 25,000 people, 15,000 of which will be from overseas, will attend the conference, making it the largest event up to now. This is the ideal opportunity for Fukuoka City to raise its international presence.
Looking at the various opinions of visitors to Japan, many praise the high quality of service in Japan. Of course, developing the city’s physical environment to receive tourists, such as increasing the number of hotels and other facilities, introducing multilingual signs, and increasing the convenience of public transportation, is important. At the same time, however, in terms of soft aspects, if the city can possess a sense of hospitality, communicate with convention attendees, and win the praise of visitors from overseas that it was great that the convention was held in Fukuoka, the city’s name will spread throughout the world. Although there are numerous issues that must be resolved, such as language problems, the whole area should work together to use this convention as an opportunity to transform Fukuoka into to a global hub for exchanges.

Note: Recently it was officially decided that the sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution will be recorded as World Heritage sites. Locations such as the Yahata Steel Works and Miike coal mines will become World Heritage sites, finally giving Fukuoka Prefecture, too, such sites. This can be expected to draw even more tourists to Fukuoka.

03.交流拠点形成に向けて 世界の人を呼び込む魅力づくり

テキスト:常務理事 梶原 信一







Image is for illustration purposes only. (Photos are taken in Fukuoka City)
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