Tokyo (CNN) — Kyoto is usually packed with tourists from all over the world.
Merchants from five shopping streets in Kyoto's Arashiyama neighborhood -- a popular tourist district on the western outskirts of the city that's filled with temples and shrines -- have devised an advertising campaign dubbed "suitemasu Arashiyama," which translates to "empty Arashiyama" or "there are few people around in Arashiyama."
The posters created for the campaign showcase how any would-be travelers could have the district's most-visited spots all to themselves.
It does so by showing images of four popular tourist sites in Arashiyama with a tongue-in-cheek message for each one.
One poster shows a monkey with the caption: "It's been a while since there were more monkeys than humans." Underneath, there's a photo of Togetsukyo Bridge -- normally crowded with Instagrammers -- with no tourists about.
Another depicts Arayshiyama's beautiful bamboo grove accompanied with several hashtags, including "#nopeople" and "#nowisthetime."
Arashiyama has enjoyed many busy traveler-filled winters over the past few years, to the point where the city was facing overtourism.
However, due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, locals report that the neighborhood has had fewer visitors so far in 2020 than in 2019.
As a consequence, the district's tourism website states that shopkeepers are at the ready to welcome visitors "with even more hospitality than usual."
Falling tourist numbers
Kyoto, which has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, usually receives thousands of foreign tourists daily.
It isn't only Japan that has been affected -- destinations throughout Asia have reported dwindling tourist populations in the double digit percentages since the outbreak began.
That particularly affected Japan, which had approximately 9.6 million visitors from China in 2019 -- a third of foreign tourist expenditure in the country.