Conditioning to Host: a case study of homestay tourism in Okinawa, Japan

Authors: Sayaka Sakuma*,
Topics: Recreational and Sport Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: home stay tourism, Okinawa, Japan
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Balcony K, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This presentation talks about everyday practice of homestay tourism in northern Okinawa Island in Japan, where the rural communities welcome more visitors than its declining population. Mass tourism and large resort development continue to trigger social and environmental concerns even after the nation-wide resort development and its burst in the 1990s left lingering skepticism about the conventional tourism development as a tool for regional revitalization. On the other hand, some attempts to insert alternative tourism become intriguing trend. This study sheds lights on such efforts to seek tourism resource within own communities by redefining rural space with abundance of nature as attractions to visitors.

With in-depth interviews and participant observations with host families and involved organizers, this research discusses the process of conditioning local to become an authorized host to serve for urban visitors. The findings show that the conditioning process occurs both at the national and local scale through creating governing system such as relaxing and enforcing a range of regulations as well as providing trainings for local families. Furthermore, the interviews reveal that there is also a various motivation and sense of pride that provides a unique opportunity for local households to play a role of host. However, while the imaginary rural space and the bond to “second home” continues to serve for urban guests, the commercialization of ‘everyday’ Okinawan life also raise questions on the limits and consequences of assigning such form of tourism as a remedy for rural revitalization.

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