Japan injects US$12.5 billion to restart domestic tourism

Japan plans to subsidise domestic travellers' expenses to stimulate economy; Shirakawago in central Japan pictured

The Japanese government has unveiled a plan to stimulate domestic tourism by offering financial aid for residents to travel when the coronavirus subsides.

The 1.35 trillion yen (US$12.5 billion) programme, run by the Japan Tourism Agency, is aimed at reinvigorating the country’s ailing tourism industry, which has sustained massive blows from anti-virus efforts.

Japan plans to subsidise domestic travellers’ expenses to stimulate economy; Shirakawago in central Japan pictured

A ban on arrivals from 100 countries and territories, coupled with a government request for the public to stay home – both introduced since early April – have left businesses in the sector struggling. Of the 51 bankruptcy cases filed in April, most were in the hotel and restaurant industries, according to Tokyo Shoko Research.

Furthermore, Japan welcomed a mere 2,900 international travellers in April, down 99.9 per cent year-on-year, according to official figures.

With no fixed end to the arrivals ban, the government is looking towards domestic travellers to inject some much-needed cash into travel agencies, hotels, attractions and eateries, following the lifting of its lockdown.

The state-run Go to Travel Campaign will slash 50 per cent off air, sea and land transport, and halve the costs of overnight stays. Covering these “big expenses” are vital to get people moving again, an agency staff member responsible for the campaign told TTG Asia.

Most details on implementation have yet to be set, he said, adding that both its launch and phased rollouts will be slow, and dependent on how the pandemic unfolds in each prefecture.

He elaborated: “We will closely monitor the coronavirus situation throughout the campaign. The campaign might first be made available for travel to nearby prefectures, moving on to travel within regions and, finally, nationwide.

“The campaign will be available through large and small travel companies. We are starting with this large-scale support, before moving on to also help local areas host events, such as summer festivals, for locals and visitors.”

The Japan Tourism Agency, which is an agency of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, is delivering the campaign using know-how from the Japan National Tourism Organization.

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