Mie, Japan: MGTO at the forefront of Sustainable Golf Tourism Development

1031x406_Sustainable Golf Tourism DevelopmentelIn 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”

Japan has been 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.

Tourism success should not be solely measured by Visitor Numbers and Tourism Spending

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.

Looking ahead, the measures put in place today will shape tourism of tomorrow

Golf destinations have recognized the importance of incorporating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their tourism practices and strategies and have identified potential areas of work and projects on SDGs and golf tourism.

Mie Golf Tourism Organization (MGTO), a non-profit organization in Mie Prefecture, Japan, has not only been spearheading the development of international golf tourism to the Prefecture (and Japan) but is approaching this development from a new perspective – sustainable golf tourism development

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.

In addition, 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.

The Marine Ecosystem is of paramount importance as well – conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture & tourism.

Golf Tourism Consulting, Inc. has been passionate to serve Mie Golf Tourism Organization to achieve its ambitious goal of developing a highly sustainable Golf Tourism Destination.

In a bid to share experiences and ideas about accelerating Mie´s sustainable golf tourism development, to revitalize and deliver benefits to local communities and economies, MGTO hosted a half- day ONLINE event on SDGs Golf Tourism Goals last December.

Stay tuned as we will share some key tactics of how Mie Golf Tourism Organization 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).

These are all initiatives and results that will have a positive bearing on Mie´s GolfPlus Experiences for International Golfers as well – a classic win/win/win for everyone.

To Your Success,

Evelyn

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