App Promoting Charms of Maibara, Shiga PrefectureForeign Tourists in Kyoto, Please Come!
Maibara City Government in Shiga Prefecture and e-Agency Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based IT service company, began distributing a smartphone app on May 16, to convey Maibara's charms, such as Mt. Ibuki and Lake Biwa, to foreign tourists visiting Kyoto. It promotes small trips in which tourists can experience rich natural surroundings and rural lifestyles that differ from urban ones.
Information about Maibara has been uploaded to the smartphone app, "Kyoto OK," which introduces experiential tourism to those staying at guesthouses. Its aim is to encourage foreigners who have visited Kyoto many times to experience the charm of Japan that cannot be enjoyed in the city.
Under the title of "Meet the Pure Nature of Japan," the app introduces cycling courses around Maibara City. For example, it proposes a two-day trip route in which a tourist can rent a bicycle at JR Maibara Station, eat "Ibuki Soba" noodle and Biwa trout, visit the Jizo River in the Samegai area, where "Baikamo," a kind of water buttercup, blooms, lodge at a farmhouse, see the sunset at Lake Biwa and then return to Kyoto. Its promotional appeal to tourists shows they can encounter nature, local food culture and traditional crafts.
The city government provided a 300,000 yen subsidy, to cover a variety of costs, including expenses for gathering news data, as a part of its public-private partnership project to develop Maibara. Masaki Kai, the president of e-Agency Co., Ltd., expressed his hopes, saying, "Local PR ability is poor related to foreign tourists in rural areas. We would like to solve that problem."
When a guesthouse booking is made, downloading the "Kyoto OK" app is recommended afterwards via e-mail, etc. Reportedly, 300 groups a month use the app as it can propose trip plans prior to arriving in Japan. Currently, it is available only in Japanese and English; production of a Chinese version is planned by the end of this fiscal year.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)