News On Japan

Foreign Tourists to Pay 4 Times More for Himeji Castle?

HYOGO, Jun 18 (News On Japan) - Himeji Castle, a popular tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage site, is currently considering a significant increase in admission fees for foreign visitors. The admission fee for adults is presently 1,000 yen, but the mayor of Himeji City has proposed raising the fee to 30 dollars for foreign tourists, a move that has sparked considerable debate.

Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, was built over 400 years ago. Last year, approximately 1.48 million people visited the castle, with around 450,000 of them being foreign tourists. Currently, the admission fee is 1,000 yen for all adults, regardless of nationality. However, the mayor suggested that foreign visitors should pay around 30 dollars, while residents should continue to pay 5 dollars. This proposal would effectively quadruple the price for foreign tourists.

In a recent interview, the mayor explained that the castle's wooden structure is susceptible to wear and tear due to the high volume of visitors, particularly the main tower. He emphasized that the issue of overtourism is a significant concern and that 30 dollars is considered a global standard for such attractions. The mayor also mentioned the different levels of connection between local residents, who might visit the castle frequently, and tourists, who might visit once in a lifetime, justifying a dual pricing system.

While the idea of implementing a dual pricing system for Himeji Castle is still under discussion, the mayor acknowledged the potential for negative impressions among tourists, likening it to experiences in other countries where prices are higher for non-residents. He cited the Louvre Museum in France, where young EU citizens enjoy free admission, and certain sites in Egypt, where entry fees vary for locals and foreigners.

To implement this change, Himeji City would need to amend existing regulations and evaluate the costs associated with the castle's preservation. This proposal is part of broader discussions about how best to manage and fund the maintenance of important cultural sites. The proposal has received mixed reactions, with some supporting the need for additional funds to preserve the castle and others concerned about the potential impact on tourism.

Himeji Castle remains a cherished cultural heritage site, requiring specialized skills and materials for its maintenance. The mayor highlighted the importance of funding for training successors and preserving traditional techniques, stressing the necessity of a justified pricing structure to support these efforts.

Source: TBS

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