Japan warns of “free airfares” frauds

Agency announced plans for 10,000 free airfares in 2012

In an effort to boost incoming tourism following the disasters it has suffered this year, the Japan Tourism Agency announced plans to offer free-of-charge airfares to 10,000 foreigners to visit the country in 2012. Japan’s incoming tourism fell by more than 50% in the three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. This eased to a 32% decrease by August, but still the agency felt it needed to do something more to reassure foreign tourism markets. In the agency’s plans, potential tourists would be asked to send applications saying where they want to visit. The travellers would then write about their journeys.
However, the agency now cautions on its website that “this initiative to be carried out from April 2012 onwards is still under examination for government budgetary approval and is at this moment undecided.” It continues: “There have been reports in some countries about acts of fraud related to this media report. The Japanese government has not committed to provide free flight tickets to Japan to anybody. Please be careful not to get caught up in this kind of fraud.”

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