JTB debuts glimpse of rural Japan through farm stays
Nikkei -- Jan 15
Travel agency JTB will offer farm stays in Japan's Tochigi Prefecture starting Friday in a bid to attract foreigners looking for an experience off the beaten trail.

Tourists can stay in the guesthouses of two farms with lodging permits, where they can help harvest crops and bond with their host families. It will cost an adult 5,760 yen ($48.57) per night with breakfast, and 7,360 yen with two meals.

The plan will be sold through channels such as JTB's Authentic Visit Japan website aimed at foreigners in collaboration with Ohtawara Tourism, a local public-private organization that promotes farm-related tourism.

The stays will be offered until March while the travel agency tracks demand and any issues that arise. More than 2,000 farms in Japan have approval to rent out rooms. JTB hopes to work with these hosts nationwide and launch a full-scale operation as early as fiscal 2016. It may combine the stays with other local learning tours to boost their appeal.

The lack of lodging has become a serious issue in Japan as the number of tourists continues to top records. Roughly 520,000 visitors here used Airbnb, a website that lets people rent out rooms or even their entire homes, in the past year.

News source: Nikkei
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