July 20, 2024
Himeji Castle

The major is considering upping entry fees for foreigners to visit Himeji Castle. (Source: Getty)

Aussie tourists could soon be charged up to six times more to visit a popular tourist hotspot in Japan. Aussies are travelling to the country in droves to take advantage of the weakened Yen.

A record 252,900 Aussies travelled to Japan between January and March this year, according to the Japan Tourism Organisation. This far surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with 172,896 travellers visiting during the same period in 2019.

With tourism thriving and the dollar weak, some Japanese officials believe now is the right time to introduce higher prices for foreign tourists visiting historical sites.

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The mayor of Himeji city in the Kansai region of Japan, Hideyasu Kiyomoto, said he is considering upping entry fees for foreigners who want to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Himeji Castle. This would create a “two-tier pricing” system for foreigners and locals.

“Foreign tourists come here once in their lifetime, but locals enjoy this place regularly,” Major Kiyomoto said at a press conference.

The entry fee to the castle is currently 1,000 yen – roughly $9 in Aussie dollars – for all visitors.

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Mayor Kiyomoto said visitors would pay the equivalent of $45 to visit the castle, while local residents would pay $7.

Around 1.48 million people visited Himeji Castle in 2023, according to the government, with 452,300 of them being foreigners.

Along with Himeji Castle, there have also been calls for Mount Fuji to introduce higher climbing fees for tourists. The iconic site recently introduced a mandatory 2,000 yen – roughly $18.60 – climbing fee and a cap of 4,000 hikers per day.

Mount Fuji touristsMount Fuji tourists

Tourists near the track to Mount Fuji in Japan. (Source: Getty)

Meanwhile, some Japanese restaurants have reportedly implemented two-tiered pricing for tourists and locals.

Rather than charging foreigners more, one all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant in Tokyo’s Shibuya is giving Japanese locals a 1,000 yen discount on their meals.

Tamatebako restaurant owner Shogo Yonemitsu told the ABC the influx of tourists had forced him to employ English-speaking staff, who were paid a slightly higher salary.

This comes after an outcry from residents living in Kyoto’s famous geisha district, Gion, urged the city’s government to take action amid a surge of complaints the area’s quaint streets have become a “theme park”.

Travellers were banned from select parts, with signs installed “that tell tourists to stay out of our private streets”, local official Isokazu Ota said.

Visitors, armed with cameras and hoping to get a glimpse of geisha and their maiko apprentices wearing their ornate kimonos, will now be greeted with warnings of a 10,000 yen fine, which comes to about A$100.

It’s not the only Aussie favourite destination cracking down on tourists.

Bali introduced a 150,000 IDR – about $15 – foreign tourist tax on February 14 this year. The tax, which tourists have to pay on top of a $50 visa-on-arrival, was introduced to help protect Bali’s cultural sites and local environment.

However, some now think the levy is too little, with the Regional People’s Representative Council proposing an increase to about $75 – five times more.

Venice has also introduced a fee for day-trippers visiting the city during peak season and peak hours. This will be €5 – or about $8.

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