The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets to the country in the next fiscal year as part of a campaign to reverse the plunge in tourists since the March 11 disasters and amid a prohibitively high yen.
The successful applicants will receive return air tickets but will have to pay for their accommodations and other expenses, said Shuichi Kameyama, head of the agency's international tourism promotion division.
The agency has requested ¥1.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to cover the campaign, he said.
During or after their visits, the agency will ask the recipients to post on blogs or other online social media about their stay in Japan, hoping positive feedback will lure more visitors.
Officials said fear of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and the soaring yen are discouraging foreigners from visiting and it may take years before international tourism rebounds to the prequake level, let alone achieves the agency's goal of drawing 30 million foreign travelers a year. Officials agree that promoting tourism is vital for Japan to help offset domestic demand and to revitalize regional economies.
"First and foremost, we will need to show (the world) that Japan is a good place to visit," Kameyama said.
The agency said it came up with the idea after an online survey of 2,000 people around the world in August indicated many would trust what their fellow countrymen say about traveling in Japan.
Free trip aims to reassure intl studentsThe education ministry plans to invite 150 foreign university students who are interested in studying in Japan to join free "trial study trips" to this nation, it was learned Wednesday.
The about-two-week trips, which will include visits to areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, were conceived as a response to the trend of foreign students canceling plans to study in Japan since the March 11 disaster.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to invite 150 students from resource-rich countries--including some in the Middle East--as well as the United States and European countries, where interest in nuclear power issues is high, according to ministry sources.
According to the ministry, of 5,600 foreign students who were scheduled to study in Japan this year, 600 canceled their plans.
The ministry has allocated 100 million yen to the program in a third fiscal 2011 supplementary budget, which is to be submitted to the next extraordinary Diet session. After the budget is passed by the Diet, the program will be implemented.
The program will enable the foreign students to converse with local government officials involved in reconstruction efforts in disaster-hit areas, shop owners, and members and officials of fishery cooperatives and nonprofit organizations. The program will also likely include exchanges with Japanese university students, the sources said.
The ministry hopes the foreign students who take part in the program will see that progress is being made toward bringing the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant under control, and that studying in Japan thus involves no safety concerns, the sources explained.
The ministry expects that after the students return home, they will provide others in their countries with accurate information by reporting on what they saw and heard in Japan, the sources said.
....I shall kick myself on the butt for not sending that scholarship application to Japan. My own fault :3 Well, hope the program succeeded *cross fingers*
the other version of this news, that I posted before, is here