Tourism budget to soar: Maehara

by Kazuaki Nagata

Tourism minister Seiji Maehara requested Thursday a budget of ¥25.7 billion for the 2010 fiscal year, a fourfold increase on the previous year, to increase foreign tourists to Japan and promote regional economies.

The ministry will also bring forward the target year for attracting 20 million foreign visitors annually to 2016 from 2020, Maehara said.

The Japan Tourism Agency, under the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, will aim for 25 million foreign visitors a year by 2019 and 30 million afterward, Maehara added.

“While most other things in the (ministry’s) budget request were cut, the budget for tourism saw a fourfold increase to seriously promote tourism as a nation,” Maehara said at a news conference held at the ministry.

The ministry’s total budget request amounted to ¥763.4 billion for the fiscal year starting next April, representing a 12 percent decrease from the previous year’s budget.

The ministry plans to step up efforts to expand tourism to Japan from other countries and try to attract more business-related events, including trade exhibitions and conventions.