Golf Tourism development has been a driving force for Japan to increase tourism spending and economic growth in the country.
Over the past 5 years Mie Prefecture, located in the Kansai region, has turned into Japan´s most sophisticated GOLF tourism scene for international golfers. This beautiful region is blessed with bountiful nature, a rich culture cultivated from ancient times, an unrivalled gastronomy, and extremely friendly people and it has been Mie Golf Tourism Organization´s (MGTO) mission from Day 1 to develop Mie as a unique “Golf Plus Destination” on a global stage (7 Reasons why Mie is Japan´s #1GolfPlus Destination)
However, the Japanese Government and MGTO have recognized the importance to move beyond the expansion of economic benefits. 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.
Measures put in place today will shape tourism of tomorrow
A motivating philosophy for achieving Smart Growth is that tourism success shouldn´t 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. When managed in the right way, golf tourism will propel the country´s economy, encourage entrepreneurship and create jobs and – at the same time – generate a positive impact on the protection of the environment and its cultural heritage. To turn this vision into reality, MGTO has incorporated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its golf tourism practices and strategies.
Five SDGs goals – potential areas of work and projects on SDGs and tourism in Mie (and beyond) – have been identified (Read our previous blog Mie Golf Tourism Organization at the forefront of Japan´s SDGs Tourism Goals, Nov 2020)
SDGs Goal #12 – ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns – is particularly critical for Japan´s Gourmet Capital Mie
Food is considered one of the main reasons for both local and international visitors in coming to Japan. Washoku, a term which encompasses traditional Japanese food and its culture, is now even registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Washoku was selected because this food has been preserved and handed down from early 1600s Edo Period. Washoku can be a multi-course formal meal as well as just one dish in an informal environment.
So, it´s not surprising that according to recent national studies, the number one motivation for international tourists visiting Japan is “to eat Japanese food”. “Drinking Japanese sake” was the 6th on the list of what visitors expect to do in Japan. Even for the domestic market, the second most common reason to travel is similar to those of non-residents of the country, which is “to enjoy a variety of foods”. The percentage of food and drink expenses in domestic travel expenditure is about 12%, or JPY 1.92 trillion (approx. USD 15.6 billion) and its trickle-down effect on production is estimated at JPY 2.79 trillion (approx. USD 22.7 Billion).
Although teeing it up on Japan´s excellent golf courses and experiencing the country´s highly unique golf culture is the primary motivation for international golfers to visit Japan, culinary experiences – perfectly combined with a unique golf adventure – are equally important.
Visiting International Golfers love the Farm & Sea-to-Table concept in Mie
Spearheading the development of Golf and Culinary Tourism in Japan, Mie Golf Tourism Organization has designed unique Golf & Gourmet Experiences for international golfers. Team Mie wants to ensure that international golfers visiting Mie will have a highly memorable time and that those experiences will exceed visitors´ expectations, stimulate viral marketing and accelerate repeat visitation.
MGTO supports sustainable consumption in Mie
At the same time, MGTO aims to build golf tourism as a means for sustainable regional development, preserving the traditional culinary culture, environment, and way of life of the locals by creating an economic cycle in the community, focusing on local production for local consumption as well as selling agricultural products with added value to visitors.
Supporting the value chain phases are critical to revitalize the local agriculture: the use of local ingredients, sustainable processes and distribution, traditional recipes (with a modern twist), smart menu development, provision of cuisine and information as well as the integration of the culinary niche into the region´s (golf) tourism development are fundamental tactics to make the whole community profit in a sustainable way.
The development of sustainable gourmet tourism in Japan has been emerging over the past few years and many initiatives have been undertaken by the public sector at both the national and local level. In addition, collaborative ventures by the government and private enterprises have been implemented.
First SDGs Seminar hosted by MGTO kicked-off our dedicated sustainable Golf Tourism Development
MGTO hosted a successful Tourism related online seminar on SDGs Goals last December in a bid to share experiences and ideas about accelerating Mie´s sustainable tourism development. The 4-hour seminar was packed with insights on the latest Tourism Development (by Mr. Jack Kumada from JTB Tourism Research) and Global Investment Reviews on Sustainability Initiatives. Watch here (Japanese language only)
EM Wellness Resort Costa Vista Okinawa, in a pioneer in Sustainable Tourism in Japan, shared best practices for the hotel industry to operate in a more sustainable and environmentally healthy way. Watch here (Japanese language only).
There, the food served to the guests are Okinawa-sourced ingredients. Vegetable and eggs are grown at the hotel´s in-house ranch, all food items are sustainably harvested – to name just one of the many initiatives this hotel has practiced ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Accurate tracking of every aspect of food and beverage is a key part of going green in the hospitality industry.
In a similar SDGs Goals event at the Hotel & Resorts Ise-Shima, cohosted by Japan Times Satoyama Consortium and the city of Shima in Mie Prefecture, last February, the second session featured the theme of “chisan chisho” (local production for local consumption).
Award-winning Hiroe Higuchi, the executive chef of the Shima Kanko Hotel, who prepared the dinner for JGTC´s gala 2018 and for the G7 summit in Ise-Shima Summit 2016, shared: “I visit local citrus orchards, lobster producers and cattle ranches to learn about the ingredients we use in cooking.
It is our mission to share with our guests such information about what we cook and serve them.” Higuchi was also very firm on the seasonality of ingredients — to promote and continue local production for local consumption, it is important to “stop thinking that you have to be able to serve the same thing all year round.”
Creating an economic cycle in the community, focusing on local production for local consumption as well as selling agricultural products with added value to visitors is the way to revitalize the local agriculture and make the whole community profit.
Be assured that Mie’s gourmet culture is not only abundant but that sustainable consumption and conservation are highly supported by both the private and public sector. Mie Golf Tourism Organization has taken it even a step further by developing a sustainable golf tourism strategy and by implementing resourceful tactics to the benefit of everyone.
Immerse yourself in Mie´s highly unique Golf & Gourmet landscape, you will love it. So, enjoy your game and Bon Appétit, or Itadakimasu as we say here in Mie.