Japan’s tourism ministry is set to call for more deregulation to boost the number of foreign tourists to the country.
The ministry and its Japan Tourism Agency plan to propose bills aimed at ending the dominance of licensed bilingual tour guides and making it easier for hotels and inns to sell package tours, among other things.
The number of tourists to Japan reached 19.7 million in 2015, and the government has set a new target of 40 million for 2020. Deregulation coupled with infrastructure investment, the government hopes, will help achieve that target.
Opening up the market for bilingual tour guides, called Licensed Guide Interpreters, is at the core of the expansion plan. The ministry plans to propose a bill to parliament by March to change rules to allow unlicensed people to work as bilingual tour guides.
Currently, 70% of licensed bilingual tour guides offer services in English, and three quarters of them work in big cities. Relaxing the licensing rule would be aimed at increasing the number of tour guides in the countryside as well as those who work in other languages.
Source: Nikkei Image: Bank Image