Yakushima Island is an island registered as World Natural Heritage in 1993. Eco-tourism developed in Yakushima Island; especially mountain climbing to the "Jomonsugi" is very popular. The number of visitors to the island rose to about 400,000 people after it was registered. Yakushima Island is a famous destination for tourists as an island richly endowed with nature.
This is a case study about Yakushima Island, and the purpose of this study is to examine the characteristics and the form of development of the tourism industry in Yakushima Island and to compare it with the Tourism Area Life Cycle(TALC). For this study, interviews were conducted and data collected to analyze the actions and the awareness of the administrative organs such as Yakushima Town and Kagoshima Prefecture, and the residents who are involved in the tourism industry such as eco-tour guides and accommodation owners.
First, the internal factors and the external factors which impact development of the tourism industry were clarified. As the primary industry including forestry declined in Yakushima Island, regional development by tourism started and the tourism industry has developed. In the development process, the registration as World Heritage Site played a very important role in establishing eco-tourism and the guide industry. However, on the other hand, World Heritage has also become a factor causing concentration of tourists on the Jomonsugi.
As result of the interviews with actors in the tourism industry, it was seen that they aim for the realization of high quality tourism and the diversification of tourism attractions. It can be said that World Heritage which is an external factor of development is serving to produce internal factors of development on the island. Moreover, the development of eco-tourism in Yakushima Island has been supported by migrants from outside the island who work as eco-tour guides. They can be considered as external factors from the early stage of the development process, and thus the difference from TALC became clear.
Next, the difference in development between each area inside the island or each tourism industry sector was analysed. The regional distribution of the tourism industry was analysed using member lists of the Yakushima Tourism Association and "Jûtaku Chizu", a detailed map of all buildings. It shows strong patterns of concentration in Miyanoura and Anbo. Concerning accommodation facilities, we find more in the southern part of the island, where flat land is available and it is easier to settle for migrants from outside the island. Accommodation facilities' location can be divided into three types: facilities in the core of settlements, on the edge of settlements and outside of settlements. A trend to offer cottages or whole houses for rent rather than rooms only could be observed; these include reused old houses as well as purpose-built new, small units.
As a result of the location analysis, it became clear that the tourism industry has not developed evenly across the island, and that certain sectors like guides and accommodation facilities have grown and diversified more than other sectors. The TALC therefore needs to be considered separately for specific locations and sectors within a wider tourist destination.