Japan Seeks More Visitors Despite Overtourism Woes

The municipality famous for Himeji Castle is reportedly mulling making the World Heritage site's admission fees for overseas tourists four times as expensive as those for local residents. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
The municipality famous for Himeji Castle is reportedly mulling making the World Heritage site's admission fees for overseas tourists four times as expensive as those for local residents. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
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Japan Seeks More Visitors Despite Overtourism Woes

The municipality famous for Himeji Castle is reportedly mulling making the World Heritage site's admission fees for overseas tourists four times as expensive as those for local residents. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
The municipality famous for Himeji Castle is reportedly mulling making the World Heritage site's admission fees for overseas tourists four times as expensive as those for local residents. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Japan's tourism chief said Thursday its ambitious goal of luring 60 million foreign tourists a year -- more than double the current level -- is well within reach, despite surging overtourism concerns.
Japan last year attracted over 25 million tourists from abroad, in part buoyed by the lifting of pandemic-era border restrictions, from countries such as South Korea, Singapore and the United States, said AFP.
Ichiro Takahashi, head of Japan's tourism agency, acknowledged the previously announced target of 60 million remains "tough", but stressed it is within the realm of possibility.
"It is a figure that we can very much achieve by making the right efforts", Takahashi told a briefing in Tokyo.
"There are still many little-known places in Japan that are left unexplored by tourists from overseas -- I believe Japan has infinite tourism resources," Takahashi said.
Over three million foreign tourists visited Japan for a third consecutive month in May, according to government statistics released Wednesday.
But an influx of tourists to Japan has reignited concerns over overtourism in recent months, with local residents complaining of their sometimes unruly behavior and etiquette breaches.
The city of Himeji, in western Japan, was among the latest local governments to express frustrations.
The municipality famous for Himeji Castle is mulling making the World Heritage site's admission fees for overseas tourists four times as expensive as those for local residents, local media reported.
"A wooden structure will be worn out and become more brittle after many people climb up and down", mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto told Japanese media, stressing the need to "curb overtourism".
Local citizens using the castle as a community hub shouldn't be charged the same amount as "people who only come here once in around 10 years for sightseeing purposes", he said.
Another flashpoint around overtourism is Mount Fuji, where a new, crowd-control gate was erected Monday along its popular trail.
The measure followed a rare step taken last month by an exasperated Japanese town to deliberately block a view of the volcano with a large black barrier, in a bid to deter photo-hungry tourists.



Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK
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Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Under the auspices of the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity "Mawhiba" and the Ministry of Education, the Saudi mathematics team won six awards at the 65th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) 2024 held in the UK from July 15 to 21.

The event featured 603 talented students from 104 countries, with the Saudi team securing 1 silver medal, 4 bronze medals, and 1 certificate of appreciation.

Hadi Al-Aithan from the Al-Ahsa education department won the silver medal, while Youssef Bakheet (Yanbu education department), Mohammed Rabie (Madinah education department), Muath Al-Qahtani (Al-Sharqiyah education department), and Ahmed Al-Shehri (Riyadh education department) received bronze medals.

Mohammad Al-Ghamdi from the Al-Sharqiyah education department was honored with a certificate of appreciation.

Secretary-General of Mawhiba Amal Al-Hazzaa extended her congratulations to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, for this remarkable national achievement.

She also congratulated the students, their families, schools, teachers, and education departments for their outstanding accomplishment and wished them continued success.

Al-Hazzaa described this triumph in such a prestigious competition as a moment of immense pride for the entire nation.

Furthermore, she underlined her gratitude to Minister of Education Youssef Al-Benyan for his unwavering support of Mawhiba and the exceptionally talented students in public education.

She commended the minister's dedication in providing necessary resources and opportunities, which have contributed to the fruitful partnership between the ministry and Mawhiba.

Furthermore, she highlighted Al-Benyan’s efforts to empower Saudi talents and propel them to greater heights of achievement through this collaboration.

Saudi Arabia's participation in the IMO 2024 is part of the Mawhiba International Olympiad program, which operates under a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education. The program is one of 20 different initiatives offered annually by Mawhiba and the ministry, providing advanced curricula and enriching programs.

The initiatives offer a multi-phase journey for gifted students, exploring, boosting, and empowering their ambitions, in collaboration with local and international partners.

Students enrolled in the Mawhiba International Olympiad program undergo rigorous training, over 1,000 hours a year, in cooperation with the ministry. The training, focused on their chosen scientific track, is delivered under the guidance of local trainers and international Olympiad experts.

With this latest achievement, Saudi Arabia's tally of IMO awards has risen to 77, including 12 silver medals, 46 bronze medals, and 19 certificates of appreciation.