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Is it possible to travel responsibly in a major city? Tokyo shows the way.

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

(link to PDF request at end of article)

It’s probably no surprise that most of the awards for Responsible Travel go to destinations outside of the big cities. It’s easier to work in harmony with the environment, engage with local people and source local produce and crafts when you’re not surrounded by everything that a modern, affluent society can provide.




The UNWTO estimates that, prior to the Covid pandemic, tourism to cities increased by over 50% in the preceding 10 years. This is accompanied by a UN forecast that, by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Add to this the fact that cities are inevitably gateways to explore more of a country and their critical role in supporting more responsible tourism is clear.

More and more travellers are demanding responsible travel choices. It’s simply not an option to ignore cities and expect travellers to start their responsible travel journey when they arrive somewhere where embracing sustainable and responsible choices is easier. Cities need to help Tour Operators and Agents by guiding them to responsible options.


Japan-san were commissioned by the Tokyo Convention and Visitor Bureau (TCVB) to develop a guide to Responsible Travel in Tokyo exclusively for the travel trade. Underpinned by recognised GSTC standards, the guide provides the trade listings of restaurants, crafts and hotels run for the benefit of local people and provide visitors with a slower, less flashy side of Tokyo.

When creating a guide to responsible travel in a city as big as Tokyo, it’s almost inevitable that visitors will be directed to some of the less visited areas. For Tour Operators and Travel Agents looking to stand apart from the crowd, this is an important aspect of traveling in a more responsible way. When the crowd are following the crowd, responsible travel opens the door to a more exciting and rewarding journey. Everyone benefits.


You can request a copy of Japan-san’s Responsible Travel Tokyo Trade Manual here








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