Japan enlists foreign bloggers to revive tsunami-hit tourist biz
Will 10 gaijin really make a difference?
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. ®
tbh virtual debt and the threat of the eurozone mean pretty much nothing to your average tourist on the street. As someone who has been on holiday to Japan before and wants to go again the very thing putting me off is that the Yen is so strong against the Pound. Instead i will be visiting north america or somewhere else in the far east so distance is not such a massive factor for everyone.
I'm also put off by the exchange rate. I spent a couple of months there in 2008 and found it as cheap as the UK. Petrol was cheaper, even though they have no oil whatsover.
If they gave me free flights I'd be there like a shot, regardless, though.
Ultimately one of the costs, flights or exchange rate, will have to change if they want tourists.
Cost and distance are all that are stopping me
Those are the major issues. A strong currency combined with a very high cost of living when you get there makes Japan a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for most tourists. Having some random blogger telling me how great it is to have a holiday in Japan isn't going to help me get there...
I actually have been to Tokyo once, but it was a work trip, and if you're looking for something worse than never visiting a place you always wanted to, then I can offer the experience of actually visiting a place you've always wanted to, and then having to spend all your time in meetings. Against that, our Japanese colleagues did bring us out (to some really good places that as a tourist, I'd never have discovered) in the evenings, but it still remained a work trip.
Knowing my luck, I'll have the ticket booked, and then Godzilla will wake up again and flatten the place...