Sustainable Tourism Forum in Japan
In Japanese society, the cultural concept of “wa” (harmony), is a cornerstone belief that emphasizes the lasting continuation of a peaceful community over individual interests. Japanese companies encourage wa by bearing the responsibility not only for their customers and employees, but also for biodiversity and the community over several generations. It comes as no surprise that Japan has the most number of long-established companies in the world, including seven companies over 1,000 years old.
The spirit of wa was upheld at the Japan Senboku-Akita Sustainable Tourism Forum 2017, which envisioned the long-term future of sustainable tourism in Japan with the theme ‘Sustainable tourism destinations looking into 100 years from now’. Held in February 2017, the Forum focused on accelerating the SDGs while setting a long-term vision that goes as far as the next century. Nearly 150 participants attended the Forum, which was coorganized by Ecotourism Japan with the cooperation of the UNWTO Regional Support Office for Asia and Pacific, Japan Ecolodge Association, Japan Tourism Agency, Akita Prefecture, JR East Akita Branch, Akita International University, Senboku City, Tazawa-Kakunodate Tourism Federation and Warabi-za. The Forum cemented a strong commitment to work in harmony with nature and local communities with the signing of the Senboku Akita Declaration on Sustainable Tourism, co-signed by Mistuhiro Kadowaki, Mayor of Senboku City, Masaru Takayama of the Asian Ecotourism Network and Kouichi Mori of Ecotourism Japan. The Declaration forged an agreement to show “strong commitment toward the implementation of sustainable tourism as a tool to revitalize local community, pursue the happiness and well-being of the residents, and to protect our irreplaceable nature.”