It's no secret that Japan is experiencing some tourism woes. Just after the 9.0 earthquake hit the country this past March, arrivals to Japan dropped 50.3 percent from the previous year, followed by 62.5 percent in April and 50.4 percent in May. The biggest tourist source countries showed dramatic decline, including the US down by 23.4 percent.
It's no wonder, then, that the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) is planning on giving away 10,000 free flights to foreign visitors. The plan is still in the works, but prospective visitors will be asked to submit an application online, specifying which area of the country they would like to visit. Those who get flights will be asked to share their experiences online. Travel bloggers, we expect to see many of you on the list!
(It's worth it to note, however, that travelers will be expected to cover all other costs...like accommodation.)
But others were quick to criticize the plan: after all, isn't Japan still rebuilding? Shouldn't the country be helping the victims recover from the disaster?
There are also fears over radiation. While Japan claims that all radiation levels have fallen to safe levels except in one narrow strip of land around the Fukushima plant, others are disputing the claims. If the government isn't being truthful and people end up getting sick due to radiation, won't the country become even more crippled?
Only time can tell. Keep checking the JTA website for more news about this campaign!