Walkers are Welcome towns feature in Japanese Research
Earlier in the year WAW asked its members if they would like to host Japanese academics and tourism specialists carrying out research into walking and rural economies in the UK. Some of you jumped at the chance, so when we received a request for a visit in August, we organised the trip to include some of you.
Yuko Shioji, a Professor of Anthropology and International Tourism at Hannan University in Osaka, Japan visited three WaW towns with her young daughter Yoko.
On behalf of the Japanese government she is researching how footpaths in the UK are thought out, designed and maintained. The objective is to revitalise and introduce new walks in Japan. During her stay she received a warm welcome from all the WAW towns she visited.
Winchcombe in the Cotswolds was first on the itinerary, welcoming Yuko back for the third time. To show the benefits walking can bring to local economy, they arranged meetings with a local Walking Company, an accommodation provider and a Leisure and Tourism councillor.
The next day Winchcombe WaW drove her down to Wiveliscombe or ‘Wivey’ in Somerset, situated at the foot of the Brendon Hills to meet Ann Scotter and Brenda Boyland. After a fascinating tour of the town, they met the owner of a new campsite and a landlord who explained how he organises sponsored walks on the Wivey Way.
The next day, Town Councillors and volunteers and who staff the community office and Tourist Information Centre showed her the leaflets, guides and information for visitors and she was interviewed for 10 Radio.
Then on to Dunster, the first village on Exmoor to join the ‘Walkers are Welcome’ initiative where Antony Brunt of the Yarn Market Hotel made the group very welcome. He organised a full programme of activity during her stay in Dunster. Antony was able to call upon the Leader of Somerset County Council, the Sustainable Economy Manager, Exmoor National Park Authority, Tourism Officer, West Somerset District Council and the North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival organiser.
She then visited the Tall Trees Trail in Dunster Forest, the South West Coast Path, and the Coleridge Way before concluding her visit with a guided tour of Dunster Village, the Castle and Dunster Watermill.
Her last stop was in Nether Stowey, a small town that is working towards Walkers are Welcome accreditation, to find out how a town goes about joining.
Once back in Japan, Yuko will use her newly gained knowledge in her lectures to students, other academics, tourism professionals, government representatives and volunteers involved in creating and promoting the walking opportunities in their area.