Japan Tourism Agency Director-General Koichi Wada speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, May 10, 2023. (Kyodo)
The Japan Tourism Agency and the Japan Association of Travel Agents urged people to travel abroad on Wednesday in a bid to boost aviation and tourism as demand for international travel struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While tourist arrivals to Japan have grown steadily since border restrictions were eased last year, infection fears and a weak yen are believed to be keeping Japanese nationals from traveling abroad.
The number of people leaving Japan totaled 694,300 in March, down just 36.0% from March 2019 before the outbreak, according to government data.
In contrast, the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan has recovered to 65.8% of the March 2019 level.
The agency will focus on promoting tourism to 24 countries and regions including the United States and Thailand, and will cooperate with their respective official tourism bureaus.
To further incentivize international travel, JATA said it will give away 8,000 yen ($60) in e-money through a lottery to 3,210 people who get 10-year passports and take international flights between July 1 and September 30. Applications will open on May 15th.
“The number of flights will not recover just by tourists going to Japan,” Koichi Wada, head of the Japan Tourism Agency, said at a news conference. “What is important is the two-way recovery in travel demand.”
“We hope to pave the way for the recovery of travelers during the summer holidays,” JATA Chairman Hiroyuki Takahashi said.