Japan’s national tourism agency has announced plans to give away 10,000 free flights to the country to international travelers as part of an initiative to reinvigorate an industry that has slumped since the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima in March.
UPDATE: After a storm of media coverage, the Japan National Tourism Organization released a statement saying that the budget for the free ticket project has not been approved yet by the Japanese legislature. The Japan Tourism Agency will announce the program if it receives funding.
The Yomiuri newspaper reports that potential visitors will have to apply for their free tickets and will be asked to write reviews of their experiences in Japan. If the reviews are solid, the thinking seems to be, the agency will have bought itself some good press after a long dry spell.
The number of international tourists visiting Japan plummeted over 30 percent over June, July and August according to Agence France Press, leaving the country’s hospitality industry reeling and desperate to give visitors the best possible experience.
The Japan National Tourism Organization's website was running very slowly on Monday morning after word of the giveaway got out, but there is not, as of yet, any clear place where would-be travelers can submit their applications.