One of the pillars of the government vision to attract more foreign tourists is the relaxation of conditions for issuing visas to tourists from China, India, the Philippines, Russia and Vietnam.
The plan, decided at a government council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, aims to map out strategies for promoting tourism as a key contributor to the nation’s economy.
Japan had 5.61 million visitors from those five countries last year — 28.4 percent of the 19.74 million total. The new plan points out that the market comprising those five countries has high potential. It also says the government will strategically ease the conditions for issuing visas to people from those countries while improving the domestic environment for accepting foreign tourists.
In the plan, a target has been set to have 5 million foreigners travel on domestic cruise ships annually by 2020. It also said the government will encourage free Wi-Fi services at more locations and allow online reservations for major public transportation systems to be made from overseas.
The government has also decided to fundamentally reform existing tourism-related regulations in 2017. This is because problems have emerged in the industry, including an increasing number of vicious travel agencies or other brokers who prey on foreigners, which could put a brake on the plan to promote the nation as tourism-oriented.
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