default ads for article
TOKYO ( MAYORS & CITIES ) — The government of Japan on Tuesday announced that it will be giving away 10,000 round-trip flights to the country in order to boost its tourism following the March 11 disaster.
The Japan Tourism Agency said 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets during the next fiscal year to help reverse the country’s tourism plunge and the costly yen, the Japan Times reported.
According to the agency, the tickets will be given away after potential tourists submit an application through a website, which will also include a series of questions regarding tourism after the earthquake and nuclear disaster, as well as their travel goals in Japan.
Shuichi Kameyama, the agency’s international tourism promotion division chief, said the country would only provide the flight tickets and that tourists would still have to pay for their regular expenses such as accommodation.
In addition, tourists will be asked to post their travel experiences on blogs or other social media networks in order to trigger a chain of positive feedback to help the country’s tourism. The idea came up after an online survey of 2,000 people around the world in August indicated that most would trust positive opinions about traveling in Japan from friends and countrymen.
The tourism strategy is part of the agency’s wider campaign for which it has requested ¥1.1 billion ($14.35 million) as part of the fiscal 2012 budget. Officials have placed tourism as a vital tool to counter the economic offset caused by the disaster.
Japan has been facing an ongoing nuclear crisis since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged on March 11 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastated the country. The disaster disabled the cooling systems of the plant and radioactive elements leaked into the sea and were later found in water, air and food products in some parts of Japan.
The radioactive fallout and the soaring yen have been discouraging tourists from traveling to Japan, which hopes to attract around 30 million foreigners each year. However, Kameyama underlined that the first thing the country needs to focus on is showing the world that Japan is a good place to visit.
At least 15,813 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami while 3,971 others remain missing. There are still more than 88,000 people who are staying in shelters in 21 prefectures around Japan.