Tourists to Hinaigawa River on Iriomotejima Island

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Tourists to Hinaigawa River on Iriomotejima Island

Daily visitors to the Hinaigawa River on Iriomotejima Island, famous for the Pinaisara Falls, will be restricted. Minako Yoshimoto Tourists will be restricted at some sightseeing spots on the Iriomotejima island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to preserve the natural environment.

The Environment Ministry said on December 6 that it had approved a proposal from the Taketomi municipal government in Okinawa Prefecture for tourist restrictions. The island of Iriomotejima is part of the city of Taketomi.

An official of the ministry's division that promotes the use of national parks says the plan aims not only to protect the primitive nature of the island, but also to relieve congestion there to allow tourists to have a higher-quality experience. The UNESCO World Heritage CommitteeWorld Heritage Committee requested measures to protect nature on the island when it was listed as a World Heritage Site in July of last year.

The Environment Ministry, along with four ministries, approved the plan for ecotourism promotion on the island of Iriomotejima.

The plan divides the island into three zones.

Most of the area on the island that was designated as a World Heritage site will be called the Conservation Zone.

Tourists will not be allowed to enter the zone.

The Nature Experience Zone includes rivers or roads in the area designated as a World Heritage site and the sea outside the area.

Tourists will be allowed to enter the zone, but they will be required to observe certain rules.

Five sightseeing spots in the Nature Experience Zone will be considered nature tourism resources, for which a daily tourist entry cap will be introduced.

There will be no special rules for entry to other areas of the island, such as pineapple farms or restaurants.

One of the designated nature tourism resources is the Hinaigawa River, where up to 200 tourists will be allowed per day.

The Pinaisara Falls, a waterfall popular with tourists in recent years, is part of the Hinaigawa River.

The daily visitors to the river reached 200 on some days during the Golden Week holiday season and sometimes more than 300 on the peak days in the summer.

Other designated nature tourism resources will have daily entrance caps, such as the Nishidagawa River with 100, Mount Komidake, 30, the headwaters area of the Urauchigawa River, 50, and Mount Tedo 30.

Tourists who want to visit designated nature tourism resources will have to get approval from the Taketomi mayor.

They must be accompanied on their visit by people who meet certain requirements, such as being a tour guide.

Another example of a World Heritage site that has set a daily entrance cap is the Ogasawara island chain, south of Tokyo.

The number of daily visitors to Minamijima island of the island chain has been restricted by the Tokyo metropolitan government and other authorities.