The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) has announced plans to offer financial and logistical support to selected foreign film and TV productions in an effort to boost overseas visitors to the territory.
JTA’s “Screen Tourism Promotion Project” will designate selected projects for production and location scouting assistance. In turn, JTA hopes that the popularity of completed film and TV contents increase tourists to filming locations across Japan.
Based on the Asian market’s significance to JTA’s ongoing “Visit Japan” campaign the initiative is targeted primarily at, but not limited to, production companies in China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The first round of awards will be decided at the end September, with a maximum of three productions selected. Stories with potential to show off Japanese scenery and townships outside of typical Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka locations stand a stronger chance.
Those projects will be promoted at the Pusan, Tokyo and Rome festivals; and then the initiative will solicit second-round applications later this year.
A maximum of $58,000 (Y5m) will be provided against filming costs and a maximum of $11,000 (Y1m) for pre-production location scouting. Amounts for transportation and accommodation support are currently being considered.
While the amounts are relatively small, until now the Japanese government has not offered tax breaks or cashback incentives to visiting productions.
Popular 2009 Korean drama Iris brought many visitors to its Japanese locations in Akita Prefecture while director Feng Xiaogang’s 2008 Chinese megahit film If You Are The One saw an influx of tourists to its striking locations in Hokkaido.
The JTA aims to increase visitors to Japan to 20 million by 2016 from the current 6.8 million in 2009.
Japan’s myriad of local film commissions were consolidated under the Japan Film Commission (JFC) in 2009, but commissions are generally limited to non-monetary support such as helping arrange permits, location scouts and local accommodation.