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Wish you could jet off to Japan, but don't have enough cash for the long-haul voyage? Well, don’t sweat it: Airfare might be one less cost to fret over, after today’s announcement that the country’s tourism agency is offering 10,000 lucky foreigners free round-trip flights.
The country’s tourism industry has been languishing in the wake of the March tsunami and resulting nuclear disasters. According to Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper, visitor numbers fell 50 percent on a yearly comparison in the first few months after the earthquake, and were down more than 30 percent during the summer.
To snag the tickets, would-be travelers will need to submit online applications detailing what parts of the country they’d like to visit. Successful applicants will fill out a questionnaire after the trip and write reviews about their experiences to be published online. These (hopefully positive) reports will be used to showcase what the country has to offer, ease concerns among international visitors, and lure travelers back to Japan.
It’s not a completely free ride. Travelers will be required to cover accommodations, food, and all other costs during the trip. The program, subject to government approval, will likely start in April 2012. No clear indication is given yet about how applicants can submit their work – we’ll certainly keep you posted!