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Globetrotter Travel Research Institute announces winners for Guide of the Year 2024

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Globetrotter Travel Research Institute, operated by Arukikata Co Ltd, a group company of Gakken Holdings Co Ltd, has announced the winners of the Guide of the Year 2024, which recognizes interpreter guides.

As the movement to resume inbound tourism resumes full swing with increased momentum for high value-added travel across Japan, the new guide standard looks to foster high-quality guides who can respond to the increasingly sophisticated and diversifying needs of travelers. The same mechanism serves as a means to establish a resource of human talent, better recognize multilingual guides who can facilitate discovery, learning or a special experience that changes one’s outlook on life through travel.


Since its launch in 1979, the Chikyu no Arukikata name has continued to serve as a travel media resource and informational resource. As of 2009 the same name has featured not only domestic and international travel information, but also new insights for foreign visitors to Japan.

With the goal of increasing the number of foreign tourists to 60 million a year by 2030, "high-value-added travel" has remained a benchmark, especially in the luxury travel and adventure travel markets. The outlook for Japan inbound demand is expected to exceed pre-COVID numbers at about 5.9 trillion yen as of 2023.

Under these circumstances, the Japan Tourism Agency is focusing on promoting luxury tourism, adventure tourism and strengthening sustainable tourism content as well as a newly announced initiative that aims to increase spending through high-value-added travel as one of its key pillars. This initiative, “Draft of the Basic Plan for Promoting Tourism Nation" was announced alongside a new inbound strategy for the post-COVID era.

Counterpoint to restored tourism is the guide industry, which still sees a nationwide lack of sufficient quality and number of multilingual guides who provide translation service to tourists. The role of guide calls for an extremely high level of varied skills in order to convey the facts or notable points of a region, including language skill, a linguistic savviness and communication level that matches flexibly to the needs of the client quickly while conveying points of interest relevant to the trip.

This lack of guides has led to lost opportunities such as unavailable travel product planning ending in postponement. Globetrotter Travel Research Institute aims for a solution that builds initiatives to improve the skill of guides, including training in rural areas led by guides with a long tenure with upmarket clients in Europe and North America.

As these activities continue, a tandem goal to raising the guide standard in quality and quantity is to widely publicize how their efforts have a direct impact on the industry via a dedicated research group. Industry experts and professionals have been invited to join a council that continues to reconceptualize potential solutions to the guide shortage problem. One arm of this is the Guide of the Year award schematic.

This initiative aims to widely disseminate the activities and contributions of notable guides, to help guides who serve foreign visitors to Japan become an aspirational profession, and to lay the foundation for a guiding culture to take root in Japan.

Screening was conducted by industry experts, while the Globetrotter Travel Research Institute served as the administrative office.

Judging criteria consists of accurate language and communication skills, as well as a perceived ability to build rapport with customers and tell stories that entice travelers to deepen their understanding and behavior while traveling. Candidates are evaluated comprehensively for problem-solving skills on a case-by-case basis, checking for ability to remain flexible and personable. Please note, this award system does not confer any qualifications or rank to applicants.

Applications opened on the Globetrotter Travel Research Institute website in November last year. The firm received cooperation from guide associations, guide organizations and local governments in announcing and distributing information. The number of applications and judges were not disclosed.

The results were announced on May 14.

The award winners for Guide of the Year were Maya Kudo, Mika Shiraishi, Chie Moue, with Special Awards going to Ryoko Aosaki, Tsutomu Harada, Makoto Fukuda, Kumi Yasui, and a Special Judges Award going to Joe Okada.

For more information, click here.

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I would want one of these to be my guide. It's nice that the good ones get the recognition. I'm sure there are many more good guides who didn't make the list, too. In my hometown there are this kind of attention given to "Best Auto Repair Shop", "Best restaurant", "Best hair salon", and many others. It's just a boost for the good ones and other good places get honorable mention and there are even "ties". Fun and informative and everyone knows there are other good ones.

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