The Japanese government is considering plans to subsidise travel expenses for up to JPY 20,000 (USD 190) a day to boost domestic tourism in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The “Go To Campaign” is aimed at Japanese nationals travelling within the country and will include the provision of discounts or vouchers for food and accommodation. According to Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency, Hiroshi Tabata, the JPY 1.7 trillion (USD 15.7 billion) campaign could begin as early as July, depending on whether coronavirus infections subside.
However, exact details of the campaign have yet to be released, which has led some media outlets to erroneously claim that the Japanese government will subsidise trips for foreign travellers by paying half their travel expenses.
The Japan Tourism Agency dispelled these rumours in a statement, clarifying that “the Go to Travel Campaign under consideration by the Japanese government is to stimulate domestic travel demand within Japan after the Covid-19 pandemic and only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses.”
Japan’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The country attracted 31.9 million international tourists in 2019, with expectations that the industry would play an important role in its economic growth in the next year. However, in April, the announcement was made that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, originally expected to attract crowds from across the globe, were to be postponed; the virus outbreak further led to a nationwide entry ban spanning over 100 countries and regions, dashing the nation’s original goal to attract 40 million travellers in 2020.
According to the latest government data, approximately 2,900 foreign travellers visited Japan in April, translating to a 99.9% decrease from the previous year. According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, this is the first time that the number has fallen below 10,000 since 1964 and marks the largest percentage decrease of foreign travellers ever witnessed.