Japan: Giant Squid Statue Built with Pandemic Aid Earning Its Keep with Tourist Revenue

squid state

The government of Noto, a central Japanese town known for its squid fishery, said Monday that its once controversial decision to erect a giant squid statue with pandemic relief funds in October 2020 has paid off, as it had since boosted tourism in the area and thus generated significant income for the local economy, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) reported Tuesday.

“On Monday [August 29], town officials revealed that a consultant had estimated the statue had created about 4.4 million dollars in economic activity between October 2020, when construction began, through July of this year,” NHK reported on August 30, noting that the “tally includes hotel and restaurant bills paid by visitors.”

A senior Noto government official told Japanese media he “was surprised at the size of the economic effect. He went on to say the decision to build the statue had proven to be a good one.”

Noto, located in Ishikawa prefecture, used roughly $200,000 in funds from a pandemic relief grant issued by Japan’s federal government to construct a five-ton giant squid statue in front of a tourism office starting in October 2020. The action stoked controversy at the time, as many observers criticized the decision as an inappropriate use of government funds.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper shed light on the federal aid package used by Noto to build the squid statue in June 2021, noting that it was labeled a “local recreation emergency grant.”

“The central government listed examples for the use of the fund, which include projects that ‘polish up local attractions’ and ‘promote local specialties,'” the newspaper detailed.

The Asahi Shimbun sent reporter Hiroyuki Kojima to Noto at the time to observe the statue’s effects on local tourism firsthand. The journalist said the attraction had been “a sleeper hit with many locals and visitors.”

Noto’s government strategically situated the giant squid statue along a prefectural road “that runs along Tsukumo Bay, a popular spot for sightseeing and pleasure boats, in late March,” according to Kojima. The town additionally made sure to construct the structure on a special exhibition corner “near a facility that has a shop, restaurant, [and] tourist information center” as part of its plan to maximize the statue’s earning potential. The endeavor has proven fruitful over the past two years, as Noto, which is a small town of under 20,000 residents located more than two hours by car from the prefectural capital of Kanazawa, now regularly draws visitors interested in viewing and taking photos with the statue.


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