Japan's tourism has been struggling the last six months after an earthquake and tsunami struck the country in March, causing millions of dollars in damage and lingering concerns over exposure to nuclear radiation. As a result, many people have opted out of visiting Japan, and the tourism industry is desperate to attract travelers.
So, in an effort to lure more visitors, Japan's board is hoping to get a plan approved to give away up to 10,000 free flights to Japan. It could cost the country over $10 million to do, but the hope is that it will encourage people to plan more vacations there and help boost the economy.
So, what's the catch?
Well, in exchange for free airfare, Japan is asking travelers to share their (positive) experiences via blog posts and social media outlets. It doesn't seem like too much to ask, in my opinion, since I love to write about my travels already. Also, visitors still have to pay for their own lodging, food and other necessities once they get there, but more often than not, airfare tends to be the most expensive part of a trip. It's probably not that difficult to find a decently priced hotel in Japan, and with some savvy budgeting tricks, paying for food and transport should not be that bad.
If the Japanese government approves the plan, the tourism board could start accepting applications as early as April 2012. And if that happens, I fully intend on submitting one.
Who knows, I could end up winning a free flight, giving me the chance to see a countrry I've been dying to see for years.