The Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau is a tiny office with a huge mission—to develop and promote Japan’s remote spiritual heartland, into a quality, sustainable tourism destination open to the world. In 2004 this region was registered as UNESCO World Heritage and in 2005 a major political merger of 4 rural communities and Tanabe City took place. These dramatic changes required a new and innovative approach to tourism development. Tanabe City decided to create a new office with a mandate to oversee the city and region in totality; a half-public, half-private entity called the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau—the first of its kind in Japan.
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