Tottori City’s Sand Dunes Become Pokémon GO Safari Zone
Tottori City in Tottori prefecture is home to a one-of-a-kind attraction. It’s home to Japan’s only natural sand dunes and the area regularly boasts sand sculptures and also hosts a museum dedicated to sand art. The dunes themselves are also a tourist attraction in their own right, but last weekend saw a huge influx of visitors. The reason? The city hosted its very own Pokémon GO event and the sand dunes were the star.
A total of 87,000 people climbed the dunes to enter the specially designated Safari Zone in hopes of catching Mr. Mime, Unown, and other rare Pokémon.
The event was officially organized by game creator Niantic and Tottori prefecture’s local government. The organizers expected approximately 30,000 visitors over the course of the three day event, but those expectations were quickly surpassed when 15,000 Pokémon masters showed up in the first day. Organizers had to quickly adjust the event and even expanded the perimeter where the rare Pokémon would appear to relieve congestion within the dunes.
Prefectural government employee Keiji Okamoto stated that while they expected many visitors from within the prefecture, the number of visitors who came to the event from outside of Tottori was far more than anticipated. The visitors’ economic effect is estimated to be around one billion yen (US$9 million) for the area.
The event did lead to some traffic congestion where visitors parked their cars near the Safari Zone, but most used public transportation.
A Pokémon GO event kicked off in Chicago during the summer, but was plagued by problems. Unibail-Rodamco shopping centers in Europe hosted its own Safari Zones in September and October. Niantic has teamed up with areas in Japan in the past to help support local economies, especially after natural disasters. A Snorlax event was held in the quake-affected Kumamoto prefecture, a Lapras event brought over 10,000 visitors to northeastern Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures, areas hit hard by the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami.
The Pokémon GO app launched in select countries including the United States in July 2016, and has since launched in more than 50 countries. Baby Pokémon from Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, the game’s first second-generation Pokémon, debuted last December. Most of the remaining Pokémon from the Johto region launched in the smartphone game in February. Ghost-type Pokémon from the Hoenn region debuted last month.
Source: IT Media News