Government plans to poll foreign tourists in Kyoto


OSAKA – The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry in September likely will begin polling foreign tourists in Kyoto to get their opinions on sightseeing locations and find out common questions they have as visitors to Japan.

The ministry, which is conducting the survey in cooperation with eight firms and organizations, will send undercover inspectors to facilities, similar to the approach used to compile the Michelin Guide surveys of prestigious restaurants.

The ministry plans to poll about 12,000 foreign tourists over three years and use their feedback to make Japan a more attractive destination.

The eight firms and organizations, including marketing research firm Intage Inc., Toei Kyoto Studio Co. and JTB Corp., will be entrusted by the ministry to conduct the survey.

Undercover inspectors will be assigned mainly to the polling of American, Asian and European tourists via travel agencies and accommodation facilities.

The inspectors will be loaned the latest cell phones equipped with a personal handyphone system to e-mail their feedback about tourist facilities in Kyoto. The inspectors also will be asked to photograph the tourists’ favorite places with the phones’ built-in cameras. The ministry will use handyphone data, including the location-tracking information, to establish tourist routes and improve services at facilities.

Although foreign tourism is on the rise in Kyoto–the number of foreign tourists who stayed overnight in the city in 2007 nearly doubled to 930,000 from 480,000 in 2002–there is still much to be learned about the activities of foreign tourists and how they feel about their visits to Japan, observers said.

The ministry will reflect the results of the survey in the nation’s tourism promotion activities to help reach its goal of attracting 10 million foreign tourists in 2010.