The Japan Tourism Agency is eyeing the potential of social media to help the country’s tourism industry regain visitors following the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear issues.
The proposal would give 10,000 free round trip tickets to social media users to help promote the country as a safe and exciting holiday destination and create buzz online.
Selected travellers would enjoy free flights, though they would need cover all other costs including accommodation and food. All travellers would be obligated to document their trip using Facebook, Twitter, a blog or other social networks.
“We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” Kazuyoshi Sato, from the agency, is quoted as saying.
If the proposal goes ahead, aspiring travels would confirm their interest by visiting a website and explaining their planned trip and why they believe they should be allowed to visit Japan.
The Japanese tourism industry has been hit hard following the triple disaster earlier this year which left 20,000 people dead and a further 80,000 other displaced due to radiation concerns.
Visitors numbers to the country were down 50 percent over the first three months after the tragedies, while the strength of the Japanese Yen has been another fact putting potential visitors off coming to the country, according to Yahoo.
The Tourism Agency’s proposal is a unique approach but Japan is not the first country to embrace the potential of social media for tourism.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand ran a blogger competition to promote medical tourism in the country earlier this year, while Tourism Malaysia has run blogger contests too. One of the most famous examples is arguably the Best Job In The World competition. Run by the Australian state of Queensland, the competition makes extensive use of social media to find a winner to take a one year position as the caretaker of Hamilton Island.
However, unlike these examples in which only the winners are given free trips, the Japanese proposal is far wider reaching with a potential 10,0000 visitors flying into the country and documenting their experiences online.
At this stage it remains to be seen whether the proposal will be adopted. The agency behind the initiative is seeking 10 million yen to fund the project, which could start as early as April 2012.
Meanwhile, mobile gaming is huge in Japan.
Update: The proposal was not successful and the Japanese government has not adopted the proposal.