Cheap holidays in Japan are not something that springs to mind for the bargain-conscious traveller. Japan is an incredible place to visit, with its unique culture and history, the legends of the geisha and the samurai, and the hyper-technological wonders of its modern-day cities, where robot shops and karaoke bars sit alongside staunchly traditional establishments and ways of living.
Nevertheless, the distance from the UK means that few cheap flights to Japanese destinations are available, and this mitigates against holidays in Japan for many Britons. The country’s tourism agency is hoping to counter this next year by making 10,000 free flights available to overseas tourists.
Japan Tourism Agency will be asking potential visitors to submit applications online for the free flights, along with a short explanation of which parts of the islands the applicants would most like to visit, according to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Successful applicants who scoop the free flights will be asked to write a report about their trip for publication online.
The initiative, which is due to begin next April, is a determined attempt to show that Japan’s holiday industry is open for business, following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear scare in March this year. The tourism agency is looking forward to hearing the reports from happy tourists who have got a chance to explore this fascinating country.
The big question is will the Japanese government approve funding for this initiative, which would cost some £14.3 million – or 10 per cent of the entire normal budget for the tourism agency. One agency official, Shuichi Kameyama, was candid, saying: “Since the earthquake, the number of visitors has dropped drastically, so to make an impact we think it’s necessary to have this many people come to Japan.”
if the budget receives the green light then the lucky applicants will be chosen by the early summer, and will soon be exploring the many attractions of the land of the rising sun.