Tourism in Japan was hit hard by the tsunami and earthquake in March, followed by the lingering problems of containing the damage done by the quake to the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Yomuiri Online, the website of Japan’s major daily newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, reported that the JTA, a department of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, plans to launch an international competition via the internet, with 10,000 free return tickets at stake.
Tourism figures compared with the same period of 2010 halved in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and although they have recovered somewhat since then, August’s figure still lagged behind August 2010 by 32 per cent.
According to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, the competition would invite applicants to nominate the places in Japan they would like to visit. Successful applicants would receive free flights, but pay for hotels and other costs while in the country.
Afterward, they would also be expected to write about their trip to Japan, with the stories published on the internet with the aim of improving international confidence in Japan as a tourist destination.
So far there has been no confirmation of the plan from the JTA itself.
The campaign echoes the one launched in 2008 by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and AirAsia, in which 100,000 free tickets to fly to Thailand were offered for people living in ASEAN countries and China.
That campaign aimed to counter the damage done to tourism by Yellow Shirt political turmoil in Bangkok.