Japan to offer free flights to boost tourism after Fukushima

Japan is attempting a novel strategy to boost tourism: 10,000 free airline tickets. Applicants for the free return tickets will be asked to answer questions about their proposed trip and about traveling in Japan after the natural disaster that struck Fukishima, according to The Guardian. The free return flights are expected to cost the country more than 1 billion yen, or about $157 million.

The push for more visitors comes as Japan’s tourism industry struggles to recover from the damage caused by the March natural disaster.

According to The Guardian: “In April, international visitor numbers stood at 296,000, according to the Japan national tourism agency (JNTO), down 63% on 2010; by August they had recovered to 547,000, down 32% on last year.”

Before the natural disaster, tourism officials had hoped for as many as 30 million visitors each year. That goal seems unlikely for at least the next several years, according to The Guardian.