The number of foreign tourists to Japan continues to rise, but most of them are sticking to the so-called "Golden Route," that links Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, the Japan Tourism Agency says.
In an effort to encourage tourism in other areas, the agency is working with prefectural governments to promote seven new sightseeing routes that extend from Hokkaido all the way down to Kyushu -- each highlighting a specific theme.
The seven routes are eastern Hokkaido's Kushiro Marshland and Shiretoko Peninsula; Akita and Aomori prefectures and the Aizu area in Fukushima Prefecture; Ise-Shima in Mie Prefecture and parts of Gifu and Ishikawa prefectures; the Kinki region's World Heritage Sites; Tokushima and the Setonouchi Inland Sea region; Kochi and Ehime prefectures in Shikoku; and Kumamoto and Fukuoka prefectures in Kyushu.
Some of the initiatives include advertising luxury cruises along the Seto Inland Sea route to foreigners, as well as providing free transportation passes to famous areas along the Kyushu route where there is an abundance of hot springs.
Tourism minister Akihiro Ota told a news conference that the tourism agency will provide financial assistance for ad campaigns in the various areas along the routes, as well as multilingual signs and free public wireless LAN (local area networks) service, Sankei reported Saturday.
According to figures released by the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of foreign tourists to Japan between January and April totaled 5.9 million. By country, the greatest number came from China -- 404,000, which was a 110% increase over 2014, followed by Taiwan (up 29.9% to 335,100). Visitors from Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong and the United States also increased.
The government is aiming for 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.© Japan Today