The government will speed up entry procedures at immigration for foreign visitors and support training for tourism personnel to attract more sightseers to Japan, government sources said Friday.
The government hopes to improve attractions so it can reach its goal of luring 10 million tourists per year by 2010. That would be double the current figure.
The government is hoping a jump in tourism can help to revive regional economies.
A final plan with more concrete measures will be adopted officially at a Cabinet meeting later this month.
The plan suggests launching a system in fiscal 2004 to obtain and check travelers’ information, such as their names and dates of birth, prior to their arrival in Japan.
It would send information on airplane passengers to immigration counters at the destination airport and other places, where the data would be reviewed and checked against information on criminals before the flight arrives.
The National Police Agency and other government entities will begin developing the system this fiscal year.
The government hopes the system can help speed up immigration procedures at airports, including Narita, which is notorious around the world for arrival bottlenecks.
The plan calls for the government to give foreign-language training and other support to workers at inns, transportation companies and other tourist-related firms. It will also consider establishing tourism faculties at more universities, the sources said.
It calls for the preservation and maintenance of historical sites and streets, including samurai residences, which are popular with foreigners.
It hopes to make use of local-level resources to boast different regions’ unique characteristics to attract both domestic and foreign sightseers. Programs being mulled include one in which city dwellers could stay with farmers and experience their lifestyle.
The government will also promote a “one attraction, one region” promotion, an idea that has evolved out of the “one product, one village” movement former Oita Gov. Morihiko Hiramatsu initiated in 1979.
If the government reaches its goal in 2010, the economic ripple effect would translate into growth of 5.4 percent from 2001 levels. That would mean an addition of 48.8 trillion yen to gross domestic product and 3.93 million more jobs.
In May, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instructed the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and other ministries and agencies to compile concrete measures to promote tourism.
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