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Sake Brewery Tours: Sakagura Tourism Promotion Council Takes Action to Boost Popularity




The Sakagura Tourism Promotion Council, established as a nationwide partnership between the government and private businesses in November 2016, held the Japan Sakagura Tourism Promotion Council Conference in Tokyo on June 28th. Motions for 2017 included the election of new officers, a project to partner with a cruise line to plan a monitor cruise, and proposals to raise awareness of sake brewery culture and attract foreign visitors to Japan. A tax exemption for sake marketed towards foreign tourists will begin in October, and is sure to accelerate the trend of sake brewery tourism.




 One member said that because the Sakagura Tourism Promotion Council began hastily, weaknesses in the organization structure arose, and they weren’t able to accomplish as much as they expected.




  Then, as the group’s mission became clear (sharing the merits of Japanese sake and small-town Japan with the international community through sake brewery tourism), a flexible decision-making body was established (the steering committee), policies were revised to completely restructure the organization, and the name was changed to the Japan Sakagura Tourism Promotion Council.



 The council president is Sukehiro Hosono, a professor of public policy at Chuo University, the vice president is Minoru Kubota, vice director of the Japan Travel and Tourism Association, the brewery representative is Koichi Saura, hereditary president of Urakasumi Brewery (and vice president of the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association), and the liason with the Bank of Japan is Fujio Miyasaka, secretary of the Tohoku Yume no Sakura-Kaido Promotion Council. As of June 28th, there are 115 council members including individuals, corporations, local governments and other organizations.




 Conference guests included Tsuneyuki Kato, director of the Department of Tourism and Regional Development. The National Tax Agency, the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also presented optimistic speeches.




 Accomplishments in 2016 included building a website and hosting a sake brewery course tour of Yamanashi and Nagano targeting foreign luxury tourists. Plans for 2017 include hosting a monitor tour for both foreign and domestic luxury tourists in partnership with a cruise line, promotional partnerships with private companies, and continuing education for interpreter guides about sake culture.




 In addition, the future direction of the council was discussed and main project goals were refined, namely (1) domestic and international campaigns to contribute to the promotion of sake brewery tourism and increase visits by foreign tourists to rural areas, (2) increase exports of Japanese alcohol and expand overseas markets, (3) build a cooperative network between the brewing industry, tourism industry and local governments, and (4) using brewery tourism as a base for making progress in appealing regional development using local resources (the Sakagura Kaido route).




 As of October 1st, the new tax exemption will reduce taxes on alcohol sales. By making sake and shochu duty free for foreign tourists, not only will alcohol be easier to buy, but it is hoped that tourists will explore sake breweries in small-town Japan, and contribute to regional development. It is certain to add momentum to the development of sake brewery tourism.

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