Taketomi Town to create ecotourism ordinance
Taketomi Town announced Tuesday a plan to create an ordinance bill that obliges tour guides to report in advance tours to 16 islands that form Taketomi Town, including Iriomote Island.
The guides are those who take tourists to natural resource areas within Taketomi Town. The aim is to enact the ordinance as early as March 2018.
Due to an increase in the number of tourists, the town officials want to understand actual conditions in the nature guiding business, and to reach a good balance between nature conservation and its use.
According to the Ecotourism Promotion Council of Okinawa, Yakushima Town in Kagoshima Prefecture has an ordinance regarding certified tour guides, but this would be the first in Okinawa. Along with creating the ordinance, Taketomi officials aim to draft a report “Iriomote Island Ecotourism Guideline” together with Okinawa Prefecture before registering Iriomote Island as a World Heritage area.
It is expected that the number of tourists would increase after Iriomote becomes a registered World Heritage Site, and many suspect that the registration would damage the ecosystem. Taketomi Town plans to start an Iriomote Island Ecotourism Promotion Association within 2019 based on the Ecotourism Promotion Law to get it right from the beginning.