Tokyo:- With Japan determined to increase the number of foreign tourists to the country by 2020 when it hosts the Olympic Games, the government plans to maximize the use of cultural assets at 200 spots nationwide to spark visitors’ interest in Japanese history and culture, a draft of the government’s new plan shows.
Under the draft, the government aims to introduce cultural properties and historical assets to tourists in as many languages as possible, repair shrines and other historical buildings, and promote local performing arts. Where exactly the government will extend its support, however, has yet to be decided, government sources said.
The new draft plan comes at a time when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government—which sees tourism growth as a key strategy for Japan’s economic prosperity—is hoping to counter criticism that some regions are not enjoying the benefits of growing tourism.
In 2015, a record 19.74 million foreigners visited Japan, but tourists are more inclined to head to the so-called “golden route” sites encompassing popular destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Japanese authorities said.
The government is now considering increasing its target of tourists from abroad to 30 million to 40 million by 2020, the sources said.
After considering factors such as the availability of hotels in Tokyo, the government will decide on a target for the number of tourists it wants to attract and incorporate this in a strategy to be compiled this month at the earliest, the sources said.
In hopes of luring more visitors to local areas, the government plans to make it even easier for tourists to travel to less popular regions by train and other means of public transportation.
One of the ideas is to designate around 100 shinkansen bullet train stations as key points for the dissemination of tourist information, but details are still being discussed.
The government will also improve wireless communication in bullet train tunnels and connectivity of highway buses and rail services.
Another plan is to upgrade existing travel services such as the system of issuing the “Japan Rail Pass.” The cost-effective rail ticket, which offers unlimited use of almost all Japan Railway trains, can only be purchased abroad, but from fiscal 2016 starting in April, these passes would be available in Japan on a trial basis.
Japan also plans to increase the number of airports and train stations which can provide luggage delivery services to allow tourists to travel without having to carry their baggage.