Japan offering 10,000 free flights for tourists…maybe

The disastrous earthquake and tsunami this past March led to a more than 50 per cent drop in travellers choosing it as a destination. So now, in an attempt to boost tourism, Japan is considering an initiative that would offer free airfare to up to 10,000 foreigners.

The ongoing nuclear disaster has scared many away, but the country says the only area that is not safe is in the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that suffered the meltdown and explosions.

Tourism in the country has picked up over recent months, with it being down 36 per cent in June and July, and only 32 per cent in August.

If they decide to proceed with the proposal, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) will be asking potential travellers to submit an online application where they are asked to specify which part of the country they would like to visit. All successful entrants will also have to write a report about their trip that will be published online. They hope the positive press will serve to ease worries about spending time in the country. Costs beyond the flight, such as hotel, travel within the country and food will not be covered.

If approved by the government, the program will start next April.

The Japan Tourism Agency says to visit its website for the updated status on the proposed free trips. The official decision is not likely to be made until December, according to news reports.

Note: The agency warns that in some countries, there have been reported acts of fraud related to this proposed initiative, and that to date the Japanese government has not committed to provide free flight tickets to Japan to anyone.