Miyajima, Japan — Visitors to the iconic Miyajima, home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Itsukushima Shrine, will now be contributing to the preservation of this historical gem while helping manage over-tourism. Starting on October 1st, 2023, the Miyajima Visitor Tax is officially applied in the city of Hatsukaichi, located in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, as part of a broader effort to maintain the island's charm.
Itsukushima Shrine, renowned for its rich history and exquisite appearance, has attracted tourists from all over the world. Its popularity, however, led to overtourism concerns, prompting officials to implement the tourist tax. The tax launch was initially scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Under the new regulations, each visitor to Miyajima is required to pay a fee of 100 yen (approximately 67 cents). To accommodate travelers who plan multiple visits, a one-year pass is available at 500 yen ($3.35). Residents of Miyajima and those who work or study on the island are exempt from the tax, as are preschool children.
City officials in Hatsukaichi are enthusiastic about the tax's potential impact. They anticipate that it will produce approximately 104 million yen, equivalent to about 700,000 dollars, in tax revenues by the end of the current fiscal year next March. These funds will be allocated towards essential projects such as the maintenance of public restrooms, ferry terminals, and preserving the shrine.
Between January and August of this year, Miyajima welcomed around 2.93 million visitors, marking a remarkable 90 percent of the pre-pandemic levels. The introduction of the tourist tax is seen as a crucial step in managing this influx and preserving the island's natural and cultural heritage.
An official from the city of Hatsukaichi expressed the importance of accumulating the tax from visitors and its role in conserving Miyajima, emphasizing the synergetic effort between tourists and the local community to maintain the island as a sustainable tourist destination.
As the new tourist tax applies, Miyajima Island continues to showcase the balance between welcoming tourists and preserving the natural and cultural wonders of this cherished UNESCO World Heritage site.