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The government’s tourism promotion agency proposed Friday setting consecutive holidays by region and helping promote family trips to increase overnight stays as part of efforts to revitalize regional economies.

The Japan Tourism Agency, an organization under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, put forth the proposal in its fiscal 2010 white paper on tourism that was endorsed at the day’s Cabinet meeting.

The annual report says domestic and international overnight trips taken in 2009 averaged 1.78 per person for Japan, much smaller than 2.51 for France. It is also smaller than 2.72 for South Korea. The number of stay-over days stood at 2.93 per trip for Japan, compared with 10.42 days for France and 2.99 for South Korea.

The report blames Japan’s slower tourism, particularly when compared with France, to a gap in the number of paid holidays taken by workers. The Japanese took only about eight paid holidays, much less than the 35 days for France.

When taking domestic trips, Japanese people spent ¥55,186 per trip and ¥27,598 per stay in 2008, compared with 2007 figures of ¥55,297 and ¥10,547, respectively, for France. Similar figures for South Korea in 2008 were ¥11,266 and ¥4,173, respectively.

Japan’s per-stay expenditures were much bigger than France and South Korea because Japanese tourists use public transport services, hotels and “ryokan” inns much more than French or South Korean people who more often drive and stay at relatives’ or friends’ homes.

This suggests Japanese people’s tourism has greater economic effects on the local economy, the paper noted.

In a survey on how to promote tourism in Japan, many polled cited a mechanism for them to take consecutive holidays more easily and also to support families going on trips.

Citing the poll results, the report proposes establishing holidays by region, encouraging workers to take paid holidays more easily, and developing tourist spots for families and extended-stay tourists.

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