foreign travellers at narita airportTOKYO —Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated Monday the government plans to increase flight services at regional airports and speed up immigration procedures to accommodate an expected increase in the number of foreign visitors as the country aims to welcome 30 million visitors annually by 2030.

Speaking at the first meeting of ministers and tourism experts on transforming Japan into a tourism-oriented country, Abe referred to the government’s plan to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2020 and said, “The 20 million visitors (mark) is just a passing point.”

Abe added he plans to bring more tourists to various areas in addition to major tourist-attracting cities like Tokyo and Kyoto by “tying up world needs with the allure of regional Japan.”

Specific measures for accommodating the increase in visitors are expected to be compiled within this fiscal year ending in March.

“Our country has abundant environmental resources and has the potential to become a tourism-oriented country, but it has many problems like difficulties in reserving hotels and using trains and buses,” he said, adding, “We must welcome fresh visitors by improving such problems and increase repeat visitors.”

The members of the meeting will discuss topics including deregulation for allowing members of the public to let out their residences to visitors, increasing reserved buses and boosting the number of interpreters.

As of Oct 9, the number of foreign visitors to Japan this year surpassed 15 million. Deeming the target of 20 million visitors is already within reach, the government has decided to compile strategies for achieving the greater target for 2030.

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