Like every other place on the planet right now, Japan has had to rethink its tourism strategies. No longer is the allure of cherry blossom trees and natural hot springs in mountain towns enough – now, Japan is even offering to pay for a portion of your travel experiences when you visit its shores.
The Japanese government's announcement comes after the Italian island of Sicily offered to pay half of guests' flights and one in three nights of accommodation for every visitor. Now, according to the Japan Times, Japan is putting an estimated USD$12.5 billion into funding part of your travel expenses. This initiative comes off the back of Japan's tourism industry grinding to a near halt as a result of lockdown measures in place internationally, with the island nation welcoming only 2,900 foreign travellers in April – a 99.9 per cent decrease from a year earlier. Oh, and remember that pretty big event that had something to do with sports which was supposed to be held in Tokyo? Yep, the delaying of the Olympics until 2021 also hit the country's tourism flows pretty hard.
While there aren't clear details in place yet about how Japan's scheme will operate, or when it will begin to subsidise international travellers, what we've learned during these lockdown days is that hope is the most powerful distraction. Well, that, and a well-stocked cupboard of jigsaw puzzles. So, here's to hoping that a trip to Japan will become a whole lot more viable soon enough. There are currently travel restrictions in place in Japan (as well as a continued two week quarantine period for returned travellers to Australia) so watch this space for when jetting off overseas will be possible again. While international travel may not totally return to normal until 2023 – initiatives like these sure could help kick things back into gear.