|“Story-like” tours create connections with the world|
mint Co., Ltd., a Hiroshima-based company engaged in delivering unique local stories of the area, offers cycling tours through “sokoiko” (“let’s go there!”) its main business. What are the motivation and aspirations of Mr. ISHITOBI, the head of the company, for this business?
Communicating local attractions by offering tours that cannot be found in guidebooks
Interviewer： First, why did you start the business of “sokoiko!”?
Mr. ISHITOBI：About seven years ago, I started a company with my friends, saying “let’s do something!” We thought of doing something that could contribute to our hometown Hiroshima. Knowing that inbound tourists to Japan were increasing, we focused on tourism. Then we noticed that Hiroshima had many visitors to the Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island, but few in other local areas. And we thought that it was just because they did not know about other places.
So we decided to offer tours for places that cannot be found in guidebooks, and are known only to local people.
Amid COVID-19, offering “takeout” of experiences online!
Interviewer： I guess the tourism industry has been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you see the current situation as positive or negative?
Mr. ISHITOBI： Positive! I mean, we have been struggling to make it positive. To be honest, we were severely hit, with all our reservations for this April and beyond being canceled. But we were able to try new things using the time we gained in this situation. We revised the tours for Japanese people and prepared to expand our business. The online cycling tour is one of the new projects we launched targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese people. We hope those who participate in the online tour will become interested in actually visiting the places on the tour after COVID-19. It is like a talking guidebook. We will continue this online business.
Making stories around the country – The market has been expanding due to COVID-19
Interviewer： What kind of things are you willing to do in the future?
Mr. ISHITOBI：Our big dream now is to franchise the business. We came to have this dream because of the COVID-19 crisis. We will continue to expand our operation to locations where we can communicate stories unique to the area. Our Peace Tour appeals for peace by focusing on life in Hiroshima in the past and the present. Similarly, we aim to make stories for all over Japan and the world, and offer tours as the destinations of the stories.
mint Co., Ltd.
General Manager：ISHITOBI Satoshi
We conducted interviews!
HIGAKI Hinata（Yasuda Women’s University）：It was a good opportunity to know about the industry!!
KIMURA Moe（Fukuyama University）：We enjoyed the interview!
MATSUYAMA Kaho（Yasuda Women’s University）：We learned a lot!
Comment from editor
By actually participating in the tour, I was able to feel the daily life of Hiroshima from before the War up to today, which I had not learned in peace education classes at school. The cycling tour gives a very realistic experience of going to the actual sites and comparing our life today with the past. I think it is a good way to help establish peace in the world. The tour offers an opportunity to learn history, focusing not only on tragedy but also on various other emotions. I felt that such an opportunity would lead to mutual understanding and peace around the world.