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Japan enlists foreign bloggers to revive tsunami-hit tourist biz

Will 10 gaijin really make a difference?

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The Japanese government is trying to get foreign bloggers to do PR for it by inviting them to earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas to write compassionately about the progress being made in reconstructing the ravaged north-east of the country.

The Foreign Ministry thought up the idea in a bid to revive the disaster-hit nation’s ailing tourist industry, which has been understandably affected by the events of last March, according to the Mainichi Daily News.

Perhaps more optimistically, it also wants the bloggers to let their readers know that the tsunami- and quake-affected areas around Sendai are still appealing holiday destinations.

The report reveals that the foreign bloggers have been arriving thick and fast, with a total of 10 invited to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Spanish blogger Roger Ortuno Flamerich reportedly came to Japan in December, followed by Chicago food blogger Louisa Liu Chu and Khaled Hamza, editor-in-chief of the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Whether a dash of kindly blogging can help boost the nation’s flagging tourist industry remains to be seen though. Probably more effective was a plan hatched by the Japan Tourism Agency at the tail-end of last year to fly a whopping 10,000 foreigners to the country (and back) to do similar.

Sadly the “Fly to Japan!” project was vetoed by the government, at least for the time being.

The country needs to encourage gaijin visitors back to its shores, however a strong Japanese yen is making matters even more difficult.

American tourists alone spend in the region of $5bn a year and some figures estimate that tourist numbers fell by half in the three months following the disasters. ®

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