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December 02, 2003

Visit Tokyo, Please!

In its latest effort to attract more foreign tourists, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced a plan to offer free tours of the city to foreign workers and students who are about to return home. The hope is that word of mouth will help their bring friends and family to visit the city. Three one-day tours, one in February and two in March, will be offered to up to 90 foreign diplomats, businesspeople and students who have lived in Japan for three to five years. The tours will cover such areas as the traditional "downtown" of Asakusa, the Odaiba shopping and entertainment district and a night cruise on the Sumida River. All transportation costs will be covered by the government, who will also provide thirty guide/interpreters. Tokyo annually attracts about 3 million visitors from abroad but aims to match Singapore's figure of 6 million by 2006. The city has been trying to make itself more visitor-friendly by, among other things, erecting more bilingual signs but still has to contend with its image of high prices and the poor English level of its natives.

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