Island in Transition: Tourists, Volunteers and Migrants Attracted by an Art-Based Revitalization Project in the Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea in Japan is famous for its islands, but less so for coastal tourism. However, in recent years, the islands of Kagawa Prefecture, especially Naoshima, have received attention as a site for art tourism. Art tourism is increasingly seen as a tool for regional development, as it is expected to attract new types of tourists especially from the so-called creative classes. In Japan, it has also stimulated a new type of volunteer tourism where tourists engage themselves as volunteers in art events. Finally, it has also attracted new inhabitants to some of the islands, who mainly engage in tourism industries. This chapter aims to examine art tourism in the Seto Inland Sea in three steps, depending on the degree of involvement by visitors to the area. As a first step, it investigates the characteristics of tourists, their image of the area and their interest in art and architecture. Second, it analyses the activities and opinions of volunteer tourists involved in the 2013 Setouchi International Art Festival. Additionally, interviews were conducted with different organizations involved in the management of art tourism. Third, it looks into the characteristics of people involved in tourism businesses and the role of in-migrants from other areas of Japan in this sector. It was found that tourists are not art specialists or specialized culture tourists; however, art tourism definitely has contributed to a very diversified visitor structure different from other locations in the Seto Inland Sea. Within this structure, volunteer tourists constitute a special niche market. They too are attracted by the islandsand by chances to communicate with local people, artists and other volunteers rather than by art itself. Their high degree of satisfaction suggests that the model of volunteer tourism professionally managed by a locally based NPO is successful as a long term strategy. Finally, the development from niche to mass tourism on Naoshima created opportunities for in-migrants to establish their own business and has given the island an advantage in the nationwide competition for migrants to rural areas.
KeywordsArt tourism Volunteer tourism Coastal tourism In-migrants Japan
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