National

Regional airports tapped for incentive program to promote travel beyond major cities

Kyodo

The transport ministry said Tuesday it has selected a number of regional airports across the country to take part in a tourism incentive program, which includes lowering landing fees for international flights.

Airports in Niigata, Shizuoka, Kumamoto and six others in Hokkaido are among 32 designated to be involved in the program aimed at increasing foreign visitors and encouraging them to travel from large hubs like Tokyo and Osaka to other, smaller cities.

Under the program, landing fees will be reduced by 50 percent or more at state-run airports, while the central government will subsidize one-third of such fees at airports run by local municipalities. The measures will be put in place for up to three years.

One-third of costs related to airport facilities, such as boarding bridges and concourses, will also be subsidized, while the government will provide financial backing for the construction of customs and immigration facilities at 24 of the 32 airports.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has set a target of 3 million passengers for 2020, triple the number of foreign visitors currently using the regional airports.