Japan Tourism Agency, travel industry promote overseas holidays

Japan has seen a surge in the number of visitors from overseas, but the number of Japanese heading off to overseas destinations remains well below pre-Covid levels.

Japan is again attracting lots of visitors. The number of overseas travelers to the country in March was 65 percent of the figure for March 2019. But the number of Japanese going overseas was only 36 per cent of the figure for the same period, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The Japan Tourism Agency, in collaboration with the travel industry, is promoting overseas travel with the slogan, "Ima-koso! Kaigai" or "Now's the time to go abroad."

There was a kick-off on Wednesday with officials from tourism agencies from more than 20 places around the globe.

People who acquire or renew their passports can enter a draw for 3,210 electronic gift coupons, each worth 8,000 yen, about 60 dollars. Travel agencies are also offering attractively priced packages to woo back younger travelers.

Head of the Japan Tourism Agency Wada Koichi says the public and private sectors are working together to encourage people to think about going on an overseas holiday if they have not been on one before, or going again. He says they want to get more people to travel outside Japan.

The National Consumer Affairs Centre is also urging people to be careful when making bookings on overseas-based travel websites.

The Centre has received complaints about websites that say they do not charge any cancellation fees, but actually do mention them in their small print.

There have also been complaints from people who say they were told they would not be able to get their money back after cancelling their bookings because they had incorrectly entered their names. They say the operators told them their names did not match those appearing in their passports and it was not possible to make the necessary corrections.

The Japan Tourism Agency is also urging people to exercise care when using overseas-based travel websites.