Deregulation of the travel industry
The Travel Agency Law was revised in 1995 to increase the responsibility of travel companies and improve consumer protection. In a move to improve consumer convenience and lighten the burden on businesses, two aspects of the industry were deregulated in 1997. The first is allowing the sales of package tours at convenience stores. The second is extending the registration period for travel companies from 3 to 5 years. Previously, package tours could not be sold through convenience stores because the Travel Agency Law stipulated that travel products must be sold at places certified as general or domestic travel agents, depending on the type of packages they handle. The deregulation has allowed convenience stores to sell tours under certain conditions.
International Sightseeing Theme Zones
International Sightseeing Theme Zones are areas subject to active campaigns publicizing the regions history, culture, and attractions to overseas travelers, encouraging them to stay for more than one night. Within each zone, tourist spots and accommodation areas are linked by a network of theme routes. In the accommodation areas visitors can enjoy exchanges with the local communities during their stay, and designated facilities will be developed. Promotional measures implemented within each zone include (1) management projects such as public relations activities, (2) facility projects such as the development of sidewalks, and (3) the development of designated facilities in accommodation areas. An example of the International Sightseeing Theme Zone is the Fuji, Hakone, and Izu zone extending over Kanagawa, Shizuoka, and Yamanashi prefectures.