Increasing "Kyoto Connoisseur" Licensed Guides by 100Promoting Tourism through Special Zone System21 January 2015 - Local topics
In response to the growing number of foreign tourists in Kyoto City, the city government has adopted a policy of utilizing the nation's special zone system that eases the requirements for license acquisition in order to increase licensed guides who are familiar with the history and culture of Kyoto from the next fiscal year. From fiscal 2016, the city government will also provide licensed guides with opportunities to receive training related to Kyoto to develop their skill in gratifying tourists' curiosity.
According to a city survey, the number of foreign hotel guests to the city in 2013 was 1,130,000, crossing the one million mark for the first time. Although data compilation for 2014 is not yet complete, the city said, "It will continue to increase further due to Kyoto being ranked the number one city in a famous foreign tourist magazine and the impact of the weaker yen."
To be a "licensed guide," or an interpreter-guide qualified to receive compensation for guiding foreign tourists, one is required to pass the national examination consisting of oral and written tests. Now, there are around 700 licensed guides in Kyoto Prefecture. It is estimated, however, that only about 200 actually provide services, so the current situation is that there is a chronic shortage in the city.
The city government will secure an additional 100 licensed guides starting from the next fiscal year, by utilizing the nation's special zone system, in which a person who has been trained by a municipality designated as a special zone and passed the oral exam can work as a "regional licensed guide" only within that municipality. Additionally, from fiscal 2016, the city will provide specialized training to teach the history, traditional industries, culture and nature of Kyoto to cultivate the capability of providing in-depth explanations about Kyoto.
With their foreign language skills, licensed guides are expected to contribute not only to guiding, but also to souvenir shops and other areas. The city government will establish a "human resource agency of authorized guides," to register licensed guides and regional licensed guides in fiscal 2016, so that they can be dispatched not only to travel agencies but also to others upon request.
The staff of the city's promotion office for tourism and MICE, or (Meeting, Incentive tour, Convention, Event/Exhibition), said, "We would like to improve the satisfaction of foreign tourists and expand businesses targeting foreigners by increasing the number of licensed guides familiar with Kyoto."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)