Kyoto might be one of Japan’s most endearing travel destinations, but it’s no stranger to the challenge of overtourism (as well as, more recently, pandemic-induced undertourism). How can cities reconcile promoting itself on the global stage, all the while maintaining its authentic charm?

Revamping the Kyoto City Official Travel Guide, Loftwork successfully created an innovative, new gateway into the city, going beyond traditional sightseeing content. With its lens on meaningful and sustainable travel experiences, the multilingual website for travelers was crowned the winner of ‘Best Destination Innovation’ at the 2020 Skift IDEA Awards. 

Kyoto: Not Just About History

The boom in global tourism has seen Kyoto City transform from a quaint, ancient capital into a major travel destination in recent years. Home to just under 1.5 million residents and 17 World Cultural Heritage sites, balancing everyday lives of local residents and mass tourism has fast become one of the city’s top priorities, with complaints of congested roads and bad travel etiquette. 

With that in mind, the Kyoto City Tourism Association, which provides support to various tourism businesses in the city, enlisted Loftwork to renew its multilingual website for tourists and help disseminate its vision of Kyoto City as a “satisfying yet sustainable international cultural and tourist city”.

Going beyond the conventional image of a sightseeing spot, Loftwork wanted to convey Kyoto as a city where new culture continues to be born through its unique fusion of the old and the new. Through this framing, it is hoped that the city would attract global travelers more sensitive to art and culture, who wish to gain a deeper understanding of Kyoto. This demographic would not only be more likely to stay medium- to long-term, but also treat the city with a sense of respect. 

Before embarking on the website renewal of the Kyoto City Official Travel Guide, qualitative and quantitative research was conducted online with future travelers from 11 countries, to better define the target audience and their values. 

From Local to Global

To communicate Kyoto’s authentic charm and unique lifestyles from various angles, Loftwork put into place a collaborative system with existing media outlets to help populate and curate high-quality content, with added translations.

Content categories like ‘People’ provide a window into the lives of local craftspeople and artists, while ‘Street Guide’ highlights “the streets beloved by locals, the type that’s hard to find in guidebooks”. All of the content factors in an overarching editorial policy consisting of questions like:

– Is the content more than just a stereotyped image of Kyoto?
– Is it a place or person loved by locals?
– Is it about something that is a mixture of both historical and contemporary elements?

Unlike conventional sightseeing content, the focus on local perspectives encourages tourists to develop a deeper and more meaningful travel experience, that would in turn lead to a greater understanding of the region and its culture. For the Kyoto City Tourism Association, it also presents itself as a good opportunity to build a good relationship between residents and tourists.

Check out the website now!


Contemporary UI/UX Touches

Catering to travelers from all over the world, the Kyoto City Official Travel Guide is currently available in 13 languages. By introducing a multilingual translation management system in the backend and the construction of an efficient workflow with a CMS, it has been possible to pump out multilingual content flexibly and quickly.

In addition, UI/UX design was implemented to provide the right information at the right time, automatically adjusting the content to be displayed according to the viewing location. When accessed from outside the country, the site provides articles useful for travel planning or inspiration; when accessed from within the country, it can provide useful content about etiquette awareness or traffic information.

Best Destination Innovation

Loftwork’s renewal project for the Kyoto City Official Travel Guide was crowned the winner of ‘Best Destination Innovation’ at the 2020 Skift IDEA Awards, a global travel industry award celebrating the innovations, design, and experiences shaping the future of travel.

The ‘Destination Innovation’ category is for innovative projects that are changing the way travelers experience their destinations, and this is the first time it has been selected in Japan. 

The way we consume and create travel experiences is fast changing – and not just because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. With content that promotes an understanding of local culture, lifestyles and customs as a way to balance tourism and residents’ everyday lives, the concept behind the Kyoto City Official Travel Guide has been commended as a sustainable model for tourist destinations around the world.

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See 53:55 for the introduction of Kyoto City Official Travel Guide for the “Best Destination Innovation ”

About Loftwork

Loftwork is a creative company dedicated to making a positive impact through design with a global community of innovators. Aside from providing innovative design solutions to global clients across various industries, Loftwork also operates a number of owned services and platforms. Learn more.

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