5 Year Since Kanazawa Opening, Anticipation with Tsuruga Extension
On March 15th, the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension connecting Nagano and Kanazawa will hit its 5th anniversary. The total number of passengers has surpassed 43 million; with this ridership, Fukui Prefecture has been able to maintain its favourable tourist numbers. In preparation for the opening of the extension between Kanazawa and Tsuruga after three years, Fukui Prefecture has postured itself to accelerate the refinement of its measures to attract tourists.
During the Hokuriku Shinkansen’s first year (March 14, 2015 – March 13, 2016), the number of passengers totalled to 9.258 million, and continued to maintain a steady ridership. Within its fifth year (March 14, 2019 – February 2020), in October 2019, Typhoon Hagibis caused flooding in a train yard in Nagano City (Nagano Prefecture), affecting the ridership numbers, totalling to 7.906 million; nonetheless, this is still more than double the number of passengers which had used the conventional train lines (3.142 million) before the Hokuriku Shinkansen was operating.
With such ridership figures, tourist attractions within Fukui Prefecture were able to maintain its strong tourist numbers within 2019. According to the Fukui Prefectural Tourism Department, looking at the preliminary figures for the main tourist facilities for 2019, the Ichijodani Asakura Family Historic Ruins (in Fukui City) received 1.057 million visitors, 335 thousand more than the previous year. Compared to before the Kanazawa extension opened (at 687 thousand visitors in 2014), it is a 1.5 times increase.
The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum (in Katsuyama City) received 983 thousand visitors in 2019, a 96 thousand visitor increase compared to the previous year, and the Kehi Jingu Shrine (in Tsuruga City) was visited by 745 thousand people, with a 24 thousand increase from the last year.
“The effects of the Shinkansen are still ongoing. One of the primary factors for the increased visitors last year is a popular television program featuring a number of tourist spots within the prefecture, and there was also Golden Week in May which held a 10-day holiday,” explained the tourism department in an analysis.
Riding on the favourable conditions of the situation, the prefecture has been formulating a plan, the “FIRST 291”, which contains measures towards the opening of the Tsuruga extension in three years time. The main pillars of the plan are the “Enhancement of Information Distribution and Promotion” and the “Enhanced Improvement of Tourist Attractions and Hospitality”. After the plan is formulated within the year, it will be carried out immediately in the new fiscal year, in a strategy to increase the number of tourists.
The Fukui Prefectural Shinkansen Operation Establishment Department described its aim of “Improvement” summarizing its concept as “uniting the stimulation of intellectual curiosity and the desire for personal experience”, considering it as a way to effectively appeal towards tourists.
“Starting with the Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, which is undergoing functional enhancements, the charm of the tourist attractions in Fukui, including the Ichijodani Asakura Family Historic Ruins, is ‘knowledge’. It is not just about enjoying the sights, it is being able to take in and bring home the knowledge,” explained the department enthusiastically.