Singapore startup launches app promoting responsible travel in Japan
With worldwide tourist arrivals increasing approximately 7% in 2017 and Asia Pacific alone at an increase of 6%, the travel industry is not slowing down. The panel experts of UNWTO are expecting the strong growth in tourist arrival to continue in 2018 and have projected Asia Pacific will experience another increase of 5-6% in arrivals this year.
This strong growth indicates more need to reinforce the efforts of responsible tourism. Responsible tourism maximises the benefits to local communities and minimises negative social or environmental impacts.
Having been in the travel industry for 17 years and counting, Wyne Png, director of Takumi Holidays, had not only experienced first-hand how the growth of tourism had impacted the locals in Japan but heard of such experiences from his friends in Japan. He learned how the growth of tourism in Kyoto had disrupted daily life, with noises, crowds and overrun public transport.
Furthermore, from recent news such as vandalism of bamboos in Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and tourists jumping into the 1200 years old sacred pool in Kiyomizu Shrine, these incidents had clearly shows the need to promote on responsible tourism.
An avid Japan lover, Wyne is concerned with the tourism scene in Japan and had developed the idea of having the locals in Japan as the country’s own ambassador. With that, the startup Takumi Holidays was born. Takumi Holidays has developed a mobile application, Takumi Tabi, which connects travellers to the locals in Japan. This mobile application is a marketplace for consumers to search for and purchase experiential activities in Japan.
The activities are workshops, run by the locals or a local business. The locals who have signed up on the platform have expressed interest in wanting to share their daily life, culture, customs and traditions with the travellers. As for the local businesses, they are interested in promoting their culture and arts to the travellers and also increasing exposure of their business in the global market.
In the process of the local sharing their daily life, culture, customs and traditions with the travellers, the traveller gets to understand the dos and don’ts in Japan – or specifically each prefecture – and the reason behind each. Hence, not only is the traveller educated on the culture but the locals themselves gets to keep their own culture and identity intact.
“There will never be enough guides alone to handle the spiking tourism numbers”
Wyne said: “Whereas group tour travellers have guides to tell them the dos and don’ts, no-one really tells the FIT travelers that. There will never be enough guides alone to handle the spiking tourism numbers. Takumi aims to gap this through their hosts and workshop sensei, only the local townfolks can combat such a number.”
By having the locals as the ambassadors of their own prefecture or neighbourhood, it narrows the gap between travellers and the locals. Through this opportunity, both parties get to understand the differences and similarities of their daily life, culture, customs and traditions. More importantly, the traveller truly understands Japanese culture as they learn of these customs through their host. The team at Takumi Holidays believes that with every additional customer and host onboard, the spread of responsible tourism grows.
Takumi Holidays is a business which offers experiential activities on their mobile application, Takumi Tabi. It is a business of Catalist-listed LifeBrandz, an investment holding company with fintech, travel and F&B businesses. Listed in SGX’s Catalist Board in 2015, the group is pursuing strategic directions with a business focus to generate stability and improve its growth prospects.
To learn more, visit takumiholidays.net.