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Japanese Ministry Plans $100 Million Tourism Site

Japan's Ministry of Transportation plans to introduce a Web site devoted entirely to the nation's tourism industry by the end of 1999, featuring in depth information on hotels, inns, restaurants and other tourist attractions for potential visitors to Japan.

The Ministry of Transportation will earmark an estimated 1 billion yen (100 million dollars) in its budget request (fiscal 1999) for the project, an official told the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Those planning trips to Japan will be able to access the web site in English, Chinese, and Korean.

Because South Koreans represent the largest number of tourists to visit Japan, the ministry plans to include information on package tours that South Korean tourist agencies can use on the Korean version of the site. It will have detailed maps of hotels and other facilities throughout Japan.

The ministry also plans to urge hotels and inns to include information on the site and compile links to their company homepages. Users can then access the network and make reservations. Hotels and inns will be allowed to create their own homepages by downloading Web site software from the site for free.

The ministry will also ask the participating companies using the site to provide questionnaires for customers concerning both good and bad service. All companies will be asked to respond to complaints. The host computer for the entire "tourism Web site" will be set up at the Japan National Tourist Organization, a nonprofit body associated with the ministry.