CHIBA -- The municipal government here has launched a website introducing 201 local restaurants, shops and other facilities to foreign tourists as part of efforts to attract more travelers ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The website, called "Chiba 'Omotenashi' Shop Guide" (a guide to shops in Chiba offering fine hospitality), is available in Japanese and 14 other languages including English, Russian, Malay, Vietnamese and Arabic, and offers information on 158 restaurants, 33 stores and 10 other services.
"I want people to effectively use this site so as to turn the city of Chiba into one that can respond to visitors from various countries," Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai said.
While the website primarily introduces restaurants and shops near Chiba Station, Chibaminato Station and Kaihinmakuhari Station, the city intends to expand areas to be covered by the site in the future.
According to the city, the number of foreigners who stayed overnight in Chiba totaled 326,499 in 2014, but the figure increased by 1.9 times to 606,845 the following year. The soaring figure is attributed to the relatively cheaper accommodation costs in Chiba compared to those in Tokyo.
"We have received favorable responses from tourists from Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia," said an official with the city's tourism promotion division. Because alcoholic beverages and pork are prohibited in Muslim areas, the new website has a search engine for restaurants offering halal menus.
The website is also equipped with a function with which registered restaurant operators can prepare their menu lists in foreign languages for free. For example, when you enter a menu in Japanese in a designated form, the menu is automatically translated into 14 other languages. Users can also insert the pictures of dishes, as well as 35 varieties of "emoji" pictographs indicating the ingredients used in each dish. The translated menus can be printed out for use at restaurants.
The city spent some 12 million yen to launch the website, utilizing state subsidies for regional revitalization.
Chiba "Omotenashi" Shop Guide: http://omotenashi-chiba.net/