The Japan Tourism Agency and the Japan Association of Travel Agents on Wednesday urged people to take trips abroad in a bid to boost the airline and tourism industry, as demand for international travel struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the number of visitors to Japan has grown steadily since border restrictions were eased last year, infection concerns and the weak yen are believed to be putting Japanese nationals off traveling abroad.
The number of Japanese people who left the country in March totaled 694,300, just 36.0 percent compared to March 2019 before the pandemic, according to government data.
Foreign arrivals to Japan, in contrast, have recovered to 65.8 percent of the level in March 2019.
The agency will focus on promoting travel to 24 countries and regions, including the United States and Thailand, and will work with their respective official tourism bureaus.
To further incentivize international travel, JATA said it will gift 8,000 yen ($60) in electronic money by lottery to 3,210 people who acquire a 10-year passport and fly internationally between July 1 and Sept. 30. Application starts on May 15.
"Flight numbers will not recover on visitors to Japan alone," Koichi Wada, the head of the Japan Tourism Agency, said during a press conference. "It is important that travel demand recovers in both directions."
Hiroyuki Takahashi, chairman of JATA, said, "We would like to pave the way toward a recovery in travelers through the summer holidays."