In 2015, the United Nations launched an ambitious plan which addressed some of the most pressing issues in the world. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were defined and set forth in the 2030 Agenda.
This roadmap has served as a “call to action” to promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Economic growth must go hand in hand with defeating poverty, improving health and education, making cities and destinations more sustainable, tackling climate change, protecting oceans and the world from environmental degradation and fostering prosperous, peaceful societies.
Tourism has been one of the top GDP earners for countries and a driving force of economic growth worldwide. It has the potential to contribute, directly and indirectly, to all the 2030 Agenda goals. When managed in the right way, tourism can not only fuel the country´s economy, encourage entrepreneurship and create jobs but it can generate a positive impact on the protection of the environment, species and cultural heritage, appreciation and understanding of the inherent values of different cultures and societies.
Three SDGs goals are particularly Tourism related:
SDGs Goal #8: Promote sustained, inclusive & sustainable economic growth, full & productive employment & decent work
SDGs Goal #12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDGs Goal #14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”
In addition, MGTO decided to focus on SDGs Goal #15 as well as it is particularly close to everybody´s heart. This goal addresses the protection, restoration, promotion and sustainable use of the land. It is instrumental to reverse land degradation and to halt the loss of biodiversity to maintain a healthy terrestrial ecosystem.
Japan is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations
Japan welcomed 31.2 million overseas tourists in 2018, the first time this figure has risen over 30 million (ranked 11th in the world) In fact, the country was on track to reach its highly ambitious goal of 40 million international tourist arrivals in 2020 – before Covid-19 hit.
One of the trends observed over the past few years was that International tourists had been increasingly venturing beyond the three main cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. In 2012, 54% of overseas visitors stayed only in metropolitan areas, in 2018, the ratio of overseas visitors going to regional areas rose to 57.7%, breathing new life into the flagging economies of communities outside the major cities, boosting visitor spending in those parts of the country to nearly US$ 10 billion in 2018. It´s the growing demand for experiences on offer in Japan’s regions which has caused this increase.
Mie Prefecture, blessed with bountiful nature, a rich culture cultivated from ancient times, an unrivalled gastronomy and extremely friendly people as well as Japan´s most sophisticated tourism scene for international golfers, is one of the beneficiaries of this trend. 7 Reasons why Mie is Japan´s #1GolfPlus Destination
Continued growth, however, is usually causing pressure on infrastructure, the environment, local communities, other economic sectors, and wider society. When unchecked, this growth can lead to significant impacts on sensitive cultural, heritage and environmental sites, as well as the day-to-day lives of residents as has been experienced at many destinations around the world. Stress on land use, depletion of local natural resources, increased pollution, soil erosion, natural habitat loss, more pressure on endangered species, negative perceptions or even resentment towards tourists and golf travelers need to be avoided at all cost for a sustainable development.
That´s why, in order to achieve sustainable growth, tourism success should not be solely measured by visitor numbers, but also by the destination´s ability to contribute to local economies and by the net benefits it provides to the region.
Mie Golf Tourism Organization (MGTO) has recognized the importance of incorporating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its tourism practices and strategies and has identified potential areas of work and projects on SDGs and tourism in Mie (and beyond).
Looking ahead, the measures put in place today will shape tourism of tomorrow – not just in Mie Prefecture.
MGTO´s mission has always been to move beyond the expansion of economic benefits for a limited number of golf tourism-related enterprises. More importantly, the non-profit organization aims to build tourism as a means for sustainable regional development, preserving the traditional culinary culture, environment and way of life of the locals.
“Our focus and main objective on the one hand are to provide memorable and unique experiences to international travelers, so they keep coming back and share their wonderful memories with their friends”, says Ms Shizuho Suzuki, who has been proactively driving MGTO since its launch 5 years ago. Training the private sector in Mie on the needs and requirements of international (Western) golfers and how to wow them has been MGTO´s mantra since Day 1. At the same time, educating foreign visitors on Japanese culture – in particular on the Japanese golf culture –has been essential as well to develop a better understanding of cultural values on both sides for long-term benefits.
First ever SDGs Tourism Seminar in Japan to be held on Dec 7, 2020 – ONLINE (in Japanese Language only)
While several SDGs initiatives have been implemented throughout Japan over the past few years already, this seminar is the first ever Tourism related one.
In a bid to share experiences and ideas about accelerating Mie´s sustainable tourism development, to revitalize and deliver benefits to local communities and economies, MGTO takes the initiative to host a one-day ONLINE event on Dec 7, 2020.
For more info on the event, click HERE (Japanese language only)
Stay tuned as we will share how Mie promotes and fuels sustainable economic growth in Mie Prefecture (SDGs Goal #8), supports sustainable consumption and conservation (SDGs Goal #12), assists to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDGs Goal #14) and focuses to maintain a healthy terrestrial ecosystem(SDGs Goal #15). Many initiatives and results that will have a positive bearing on Mie´s GolfPlus Experiences.