New five-year tourism plan gets OK

Kyodo

The Cabinet on Friday adopted the next five-year basic plan to promote tourism starting in fiscal 2012, setting a goal of increasing the annual number of foreign visitors to 18 million by 2016.

The new tourism promotion plan stipulates that increasing foreign visitors will contribute to the reconstruction of the Tohoku region, which was hit by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.

The number of foreign visitors, who reached a record high 8.6 million in 2010, is estimated to have dropped to 6.2 million in 2011 because of the disasters, particularly the radiation scare.

The plan also underscores the economic ripple effects of attracting more tourists from elsewhere in Asia and the rest of the world, as Japan’s population and birthrate fall and its society ages.

While expanding the annual spending target by visitors to ¥30 trillion, compared with ¥25.5 trillion in 2009, the plan anticipates tourism will provide employment opportunities for about 5.4 million people across the nation.

The plan sets a goal in the annual number of people traveling abroad from Japan to 20 million, compared with an estimated 17 million in 2011, and urges firms to grant employees more holidays.