A Popular Japanese Island Just Instituted a Tourism Cap

Overtourism has prompted officials to limit the number of visitors.

One of the greatest challenges facing the travel industry today is overtourism—when the popularity of a location threatens its very existence. You see this in destinations like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City, and also places like Paris and Rome. To address this issue, one approach is to put tourism caps in place, limiting the number of people who can visit a location during a certain period of time.

According to Japan Today, the local government on the island of Iriomote announced that starting in April 2023, there will be a limit of 1,200 tourists allowed to visit per day. The measure is partly to preserve the local ecosystem, including the endangered Irimote cat, and partly to ensure the lives of residents aren't negatively impacted by crowds.

Right now, there is not a legal requirement for visitors to follow this measure, but local government officials have asked that travel companies follow the guidance. The mostly uninhabited island is home to pristine wildlife, and overtourism threatens the entire environment.

The new measure was announced shortly after Japan reopened to tourists, after strict mandates that were instituted during the pandemic were finally lifted.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.