Japan makes concerted effort at tourism recovery

A MULTI-agency effort is underway in Japan to re-instill confidence in the country as a holiday destination. The initiative will initially target travel industry professionals, and subsequently, consumers.

Tourist information centres and the Japan National Tourism Organization’s website are disseminating up-to-date information in multiple languages around-the-clock, including in English and Mandarin.

The Japanese government has also approved a supplementary budget of 4.1 trillion yen (US$51 billion) for 2012 to assist in recovery efforts.

Naoyoshi Yamada, vice commissioner for international affairs, Japan Tourism Agency at Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said that the greatest barrier to attracting visitors back to Japan was the radiation problem resulting from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

“In Tokyo, radiation levels have remained in the normal band, and are in fact even lower than in Singapore,” he said.

International organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization, have confirmed the return to normalcy.

While domestic tourism has recovered quite strongly since the disaster, international travel into Japan is somewhat sluggish.

Yamada hopes that visits by high-profile personalities such as Lady Gaga this month, and the staging of the World Travel and Tourism Council in Tokyo next year, will help boost inbound travel.

Japan has even made a direct appeal to Chinese travellers to return, and this has been helped by the recent visit of the chinese premier and minister of tourism.

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