October 11th, 2011
06:55 AM GMT
If you’ve always dreamed of seeing Tokyo’s cherry blossoms or Kyoto’s famous temples, or even the Anime maid cafes of Akihabara, the Japanese government wants to help turn your hopes into reality.
In order to boost visitor numbers in the wake of its recent disasters, Japan’s official tourism agency hopes to provide free flights for 10,000 foreigners to travel to the country.
The Japan Tourism Agency says it will ask the lucky tourists to post about their experiences on social media.
“The travelers will put stories and images of their fun trips to Japan while travelling on Facebook and their own blogs,” says the Agency’s Masatoshi Tsukasaki.
“As such stories spread to their friends and followers, we hope a sense of insecurity and worries over Japan built up after the quake would be eliminated.”
The agency has asked for $14 million dollars as part of next year’s budget to fund the program. Winners would be selected based on how interesting their travels plans are, with 10,000 receiving free round-trip plane tickets.
The government hopes to lure both traditional tourists and young visitors interested in the country's street culture and nightlife. Tourists would be expected to pay for their own hotels and activities.
Japan’s tourism industry has suffered in the aftermath of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disasters on March 11. In August, just 546,800 tourists visited Japan, nearly a third less than a year earlier.
In the most impacted areas, visitors have fallen off by up to 90%. Tsukasaki says he expects it to take three-to-five years for the industry to fully recovery.
He also believes the project is away of showing gratitude for all the support Japan has received from the international community.
“The world helped Japan to come back on its feet,” he says. “We would like to show how much progress we have made since then."
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