A proposal has been put forward that as of April 2012, Japan’s tourism agency (JNTO) will offer 10,000 free return flights to foreign travellers at a cost of more than 1bn yen (£10m), approximately 10% of its budget request for next year.
Tourism to Japan dropped dramatically after the 11 March Fukushima disaster, which left almost 20,000 people dead or missing and triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country’s history. The JNTO hopes that the free flights programme will boost spending in regional economies, although it is still subject to government budgetary approval.
If the programme goes ahead, applicants will be asked to outline their travel plans and answer questions about post-disaster tourism in Japan. Successful applicants will then receive free return air tickets, but must pay for their accommodation and other expenses.
“[We want visitors] not to just take our word for it, but to come and see for themselves how the Japan of today offers as memorable and diverse a travel experience as ever,” said Mamoru Kobori, JNTO’s executive director of marketing and promotion.
If you fancy exploring the home of Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki at a knock-down price, keep your eye on http://www.jnto.go.jp/ for details.