The government has decided to create a new law aimed at attracting more foreign visitors to museums and other cultural facilities in various parts of Japan, sources familiar with the plan said Monday.

The envisaged law, which will enable the government to provide subsidies for improvement of access to those facilities, is part of its efforts to increase the number of tourists visiting rural areas, besides major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, and promote Japanese culture and history.

(The National Art Center, Tokyo)

Boosting the appeal of regional areas relative to such major tourist destinations is seen as a key step for Japan to hit its target of drawing 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 and 60 million in 2030.

Under the plan, the government will give subsidies to projects aimed at improving transportation to cultural facilities, including museums, theaters and music halls, from railway stations or airports.

Financial support will also be given to those facilities so they can improve Wi-Fi access, offer multilingual services and accept cashless payments for ticket purchases, the sources said.

(21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)

Relevant entities such as museum operators and municipalities need to draw up tourism-boosting plans before they can become eligible to receive the assistance.

The government is expected to submit a bill to enable the launch of the scheme to the regular Diet session to be convened in January, the sources said.

For fiscal 2020 starting in April, it plans to select around 25 locations across the country and the Agency for Cultural Affairs plans to earmark about 2 billion yen ($18 million) in the initial budget for the year, according to the sources.

The number of visitors to museums, zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens in Japan hit a record high of over 140 million in fiscal 2017, apparently reflecting their popularity among foreign tourists, according to data by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

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