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The government has decided on a basic plan to promote the tourist industry as one of Japan’s main policy measures for the 21st century. The basic plan sets goals in 25 areas, including three main ones — increasing domestic tours by Japanese, attracting more tourists from abroad, and increasing the number of Japanese tourists who go abroad. It is hoped that local governments, tourist industry enterprises and local residents will strive to fully make use of their regional tourism resources to meet these goals.

The plan calls for increasing spending on domestic tours by Japanese to ¥30 trillion by fiscal 2010 from ¥24.4 trillion in fiscal 2005. In fiscal 2006, each Japanese spent an estimated 2.77 nights on domestic tours, a decrease of 4.2 percent from the previous fiscal year. The plan aims to increase the length of stay to four nights.

The government’s Visit Japan campaign, which began in 2003, is bearing fruit. The number of tourists visiting Japan grew 17.8 percent in 2004 from the previous year. 2005 and 2006 each saw growth of more than 9 percent, with a record 7.33 million tourists visiting Japan last year. The plan calls for increasing the number of such tourists to 10 million annually by 2010, increasing the number of international conferences held in Japan by more than 50 percent by 2011 and concluding immigration procedures for each visitor at every airport within 20 minutes.

Last year, 17.53 million Japanese went abroad as tourists. The plan aims to boost this number to 20 million by 2010.

Expanding tourism will not only stimulate the growth of local economic activities, including employment, but also promote interchanges between Japanese and visitors from other lands. Local governments, enterprises and residents should cooperate and display ingenuity in utilizing dietary culture, historic sites, spas, traditional crafts, performing arts, natural surroundings, annual events and other resources to attract more tourists to their regions.

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