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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Your Next Japanese Holiday Could Be Partly Paid for By the Japanese Government

The Japan Tourism Agency has announced a program that'll subsidise a portion of tourists' travel expenses, to come into effect when the country reopens its borders.
By Sarah Ward
May 26, 2020
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Your Next Japanese Holiday Could Be Partly Paid for By the Japanese Government

The Japan Tourism Agency has announced a program that'll subsidise a portion of tourists' travel expenses, to come into effect when the country reopens its borders.
By Sarah Ward
May 26, 2020
  shares

UPDATE: MAY 28, 2020 — Since publication of the below article, the Japan Tourism Agency has clarified in a Tweet that the subsidy scheme, called the Go To Travel Campaign, is to "stimulate domestic travel demand within Japan after the COVID-19 pandemic and only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses". The scheme is still under consideration by the Japanese Government.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global tourism as we once knew it virtually disappeared overnight, with borders closing, flights grounded and overseas holidays off the cards for months now. But with Australia, New Zealand and other nations around the world gradually beginning to loosen their coronavirus restrictions, that might eventually change — and if you're wondering where to venture to first, the Japanese government wants to help fund your next getaway.

As reported by The Japan Times, the Japan Tourism Agency has announced a tourism subsidy scheme that'll pay a portion of travel expenses for visitors coming into the country. If the idea sounds familiar, that's because the Mediterranean island of Sicily is doing the same thing, as it revealed a few weeks back.

JTA's chief Hiroshi Tabata told a press conference that the program would come into effect when Japan's COVID-19 case numbers subside and the country subsequently reopens its borders — which he said could be as early as July. Few other details have been revealed as yet, including exactly what costs the scheme will reimburse (such as flights, accommodation and venue tickets). Still, if strolling across Shibuya's scramble crossing, visiting the Studio Ghibli museum, wandering through a kaleidoscopic maze of digital art, singing karaoke in a ferris wheel and eating Godzilla-themed desserts next to a building-sized Godzilla statue are all on your must-do travel list (and they all definitely should be), this is welcome news.

The Japanese agency expects to spend a massive ¥1.35 trillion — approximately AU$19 billion — on the tourism initiative, a move designed to help revive the struggling sector. As The Japan Times also notes, Japan's visitor numbers for January–April 2020 are down 64.1 percent compared to the same period in 2019. And, with the Tokyo Olympics rescheduled from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19, there's no longer a guaranteed influx of travellers expected this year.

Japan has been under a state of emergency since early April, but it was lifted on Monday, May 25 by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, with infection numbers — especially in Tokyo — continuing to fall. While lockdowns have been loosening in some regions around the country in recent weeks, the latest move also includes Tokyo, where restrictions on restaurants, bars, libraries and museums are also starting to ease.

For further details about the Japan Tourism Agency tourism scheme, keep an eye on the agency's website.

Via The Japan Times.

Published on May 26, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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