There has been a long silence here and I deeply apologize for that.
Spring has arrived safely here in Aso, Kumamoto and the fresh grass is greener and more beautiful than ever!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that even life in this small mountain village has been a bit crazy with the Covid-19 pandemic. And even though things finally seem to have calmed down slightly, we are still far from being in the clear.
The tour business that I spent most of last year building up and launching has, of course, taken quite a hit. Right as we went into selling our product, we were lucky enough to get some attention, had our first few inquiries, and believe it or not, even a couple of reservations! During this crucial time, Corona swept over the world only to leave a deep and silent void in its path. Needless to say, neither inquiries nor reservations resulted in anything.
Obviously, my struggles are nothing compared to the pain and suffering caused around the world at the hands of this vicious virus, and everything that needs to be done to stop its onslaught should be done. That is why, even though the strain that is put on the travel industry is literally unbearable, it is unavoidable and completely necessary.
With that said, we have once again opened up to accept reservations for tours but to be completely honest, we don’t expect any visitors until at least next year. And that is fine. This time should be about carefully figuring out the path forward.
Let me also touch a bit on Japan in a broader sense.
Japan which has had an explosion of tourism since 2015 has now plummeted and in April, normally the busiest time of year, 1256 foreign travelers entered Japan. This is a 99,9% (!!!!) drop since last year. I think this number fairly well displays the gravity of the situation. Especially considering the fact that Japan is a land that, more than ever before, depends on tourism to support its struggling economy.
In Kumamoto prefecture where I live, we still only have 48 confirmed infections and 3 deaths making us blessed compared to many other areas. Personally, I do believe that the unrecorded number of infections is far higher than the official numbers. But still, the fact that their have been few deaths is something to be thankful for.
The “State of Emergency Declaration” has been pulled back since first June and slowly, life starts to return to normal. I guess a more correct phrashing would be that everyone is desperately trying to grasp at what the new “post-corona-normal” is. Everyone fear the second wave and are trying to adapt with the correct countermeasures to both prevent further spreading of Corona while also allowing people to live a life outside of their homes.
This is a situation that has never been seen before and it’s hard to guess at what the future holds. When the situation truly calms down, hopefully, the world will be ready for a responsible form of travel. Small groups, awareness of local impact, exchange of ideas, a form of travel that promotes sustainable development, and preserves cultures and resources.
I will finish this before it turns into a rant, but I’m still here, Aso is still here, hopefully you will also be here in a not too far away future.
Stay safe, stay healthy!