The Osaka Government Tourism Bureau will start providing free Wi-Fi service for tourists from Jan. 29 throughout the prefecture at such locations as tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants and on public transportation, it announced on Jan. 28.
The goal is to provide useful information for visitors to the city and allow them to share their travel experiences online.
The "Osaka Free Wi-Fi" service will be available in about 44 locations (163 access points) when it first launches. That number is scheduled to increase to 3,000 locations (8,000 access points) by December 2014, with expansion expected to continue.
In 2012, approximately 2.03 million foreign tourists visited Osaka, and that number is expected to rise to around 2.6 million in this fiscal year. With the growth of smartphones and tablets, it is becoming increasingly vital to create an environment where tourists can obtain useful tourism information, according to the Osaka Government Tourism Bureau.
According to a survey conducted by Japan National Tourism Organization, more than 90 percent of foreign tourists bring their own Internet-capable devices to access the Internet. While free Wi-Fi is becoming available in various locations, many tourists are still not fully satisfied with their Internet connectivity experience.
Also, in March, the website “Osaka Enjoy Rally” is scheduled to launch. Osaka Enjoy Rally is a paid advertisement membership site that highlights the prefecture's restaurants and stores. The service will be free to tourists who will be guided to the businesses listed on the site.
The Osaka Free Wi-Fi service is a collaborative effort by the Osaka prefectural government, the city of Osaka, the Kinki District Transport Bureau of the land ministry, NTT West Corp., NTT Broadband Platform Inc. and other public and private-sector organizations.
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