Just tell me you want me (free plane tickets be damned!)

I came across this story from LA Times, how Japan is thinking of offering foreigners free tickets to Japan just for them to spend a holiday there.

To quote the complete article:

“Seeking to lure tourists to a nation still reeling from the effects of the March earthquake and tsunami, Japan says it will make it easier for foreign travelers to visit: It’ll offer free airline tickets.

Officials next year plan to offer 10,000 travelers free airfares to visit the country, which is still coping with the tsunami-triggered nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant several hundred miles north of Tokyo. Government officials say the nation is safe for travel anywhere but the area near the stricken nuclear power plant.

The Japan Tourism Agency announced this week that it plans to ask would-be travelers to submit online applications for the free flights, detailing the region of the country they would like to visit, according to a story in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

The agency will select winning entrants, who will be required to write a review of their experiences in Japan to be published on the Internet. Travelers are asked to cover their own hotels and meals.
Officials hope that positive reports from tourists will help lure travelers back to Japan, which endured a 50% drop in tourism for the first three months following the March 11 disaster, compared with numbers from the same period in 2010.”

pic not mine

I want to join the contest but I am not sure if it applies to us Filipinos. The thing is, tourism and immigration laws are more strict when it comes to my country. I don’t really blame Japan — years of abuse and illegal migration among SOME unscrupulous Filipinos has pushed a lot of countries (that happens to be cool tourism destinations) to implement stricter immigration and consular laws. Anyway, I am planning on joining and I am just waiting for the “how to’s”. Hey I ain’t got nothin’ to lose anyway.

I am not really after the plane tickets. I am after more than that: an approved visa, the chance to see Japan and experience life, culture, the food, the lights and sounds of a country that I’ve been pining for the last twelve years of my life.

Since I was twenty, I wanted to experience Japan–and wonder what it’s like walking the streets of Akihabara, Harajuku or Shibuya. Being face to face with people whose discipline and culture I have loved and envied so much. Being immersed in a language I only know bits and pieces.

So, yeah I hope this is true and that this will push through. Especially since the Japan National Tourism Office came up with an announcement highlighting that this initiative is still in the pipeline and has not been given yet the green
light from the government. I figure that the JNTO site must have been flooded with a thousand inquiries about this program.

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