SMALL inns and hotels across Japan have welcomed a government initiative to provide subsidies for facility upgrades aimed at catering to the soaring number of tourists.
Announced in early December, the government hopes to lure visitors off the beaten path and encourage them to stay at traditional Japanese inns through this project.
At present, many local inns, or ryokans, have not been able to afford to install wireless internet access, for example, while some lack Western-style toilets or information in English.
"We are constantly required to renovate our premises and improve our facilities, so this will be a big help to independent ryokan operators like us," said Takashi Hasegawa, owner of Yagyu-No-Sho inn in Shizuoka prefecture.
Ritsuko Nakamura, proprietor of the Ryokan Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture, concurs.
"It would be especially useful for small inns like mine," she said, adding that it would be particularly helpful if the financial aid is extended to support promotional visits overseas in order to raise the profile of her ryokan.
The government has not specified the amount to be injected into the scheme, but details are expected before the end of the fiscal year in end-March.