For the last few days, the internet has been abuzz after news stories appeared with headlines like:
- “Japan to Give 10,000 Airplane Tickets to International Tourists” – Fox News
- “Japan offers 10,000 free trips to foreigners” – Vancouver Sun/AFP
- “Japan to offer 10,000 free visits in desperate bid to boost tourism” – news.au.com/AFP
- “10000 Free Round-Trip Tickets to Japan” – ABC News
And so on. Many people assumed that the headlines were accurate and they wanted to know more. The Japan Tourism Organization’s website was bombarded with hits. Those who tried to access the site over the last few days, and the site was either not loading or loading at an extremely slowly.
But the Japan Tourism Organization had no information on their homepage about the offer. That’s because there is no offer. It was just an idea that was under consideration. It had not been approved. Many of the English language articles had reported it as such, but this crucial information was usually left out of the headlines and first paragraphs of the articles.
On October 14th, the JTO posted the following news update:
Thank you for your interest in visiting Japan.
Recently a number of media outlets have publicized reports about ”Japan offering 10,000 free flights to foreigners”. However, this initiative to be carried out from April 2012 onwards is still under examination for government budgetary approval and is at this moment undecided.
If the initiative is confirmed and put into operation, Japan Tourism Agency will officially announce details on this website.
Warning: There have been reports in some countries about acts of fraud related to this media report. The Japanese government has not committed to provide free flight tickets to Japan to anybody. Please be careful not to get caught up in this kind of fraud.
Although the idea caused a lot of excitement outside of Japan, it does not necessarily have support within Japan. One should not assume that it will automatically pass the budget approval panels.