Some Vietnamese travel firms have received financial supports of up to 50 percent of advertising charges when selling tours to Japan, a move aimed to lure more holiday-makers after visa procedures to the nation have been loosened, a local newspaper reported.

According to The Saigon Times Daily, local enterprises are strongly advertising cherry blossom flower watching tours in April. The director of a travel firm in Ho Chi Minh City said that the advertising fee on local media of his business group for this tour is 200 million VND (9,500 USD), but the group will have to spend only 100 million VND thanks to a 50 percent subsidy given by Japan’s tourism promotion authorities.

“Japan is speeding up the assistance. Many Vietnamese firms have received the support without the need to make a commitment on the number of guests they would send to Japan,” he said.

Japan targets to attract around 200,000 travelers from Vietnam by 2015, doubling last year’s figure.

Since 2013, Japan has approved multiple-entry visa for Vietnamese tourists instead of a single-entry visa like before. This weekend, Tokyo’s authorities and Japanese firms will organise a tourism seminar for local enterprises in Hanoi.

Many local enterprises have offered tours to Japan, which has seen strong growth of arrivals from Hanoi. Last December, 24 travel firms met in Hanoi to establish a Japan tour group.

The enterprises said that Japan tours are now 10 percent cheaper than before. Some large firms even cooperated with Japanese partners to cut tour prices by 10 million VND sometimes.

For special time such as the cherry blossom flower festival, many enterprises still launch trips each day with tour prices unchanged.

“Tour prices have been cheaper while visa procedures have been loosened. So, we are launching more tours to Japan, especially in the Hanoi market,” said Tran Xuan Hung, Director of Viking Travel Company.

Vu The Binh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said that Japan is trying to attract tourists from Vietnam. However, the nation has also launched measures to develop tourism of both sides.

Binh said the association will send a mission to Japan to discuss opening a representative office in Tokyo. Japan has given assistance in the scheme to lure Vietnamese guests to Japan and vice versa.

The representative office is expected to open in March.-VNA