Itsukushima Shrine
Photo: Nicki Eliza Schinow/UnsplashItsukushima Shrine

Japan eases domestic travel restrictions and gets ready to boost local tourism

People are no longer discouraged from travelling across prefectures for non-essential purposes

Emma Steen

Japan is moving quickly to restore some semblance of the way things were before the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Since the state of emergency was lifted on May 25, restrictions have been eased gradually while businesses in Tokyo and across the country are reopening. Though the reopening of the country's borders for international travel is still under discussion, Prime Minister Abe announced that as of June 19, travel restrictions on domestic trips would be lifted.

This marks the beginning of phase two of the Japanese government’s three-step process for kickstarting domestic travel. Previously, people were strongly discouraged – though not banned – from going to different prefectures unless it was essential, and visits to virus hotspots such as Tokyo and Hokkaido were particularly frowned upon.

According to a document (Japanese only) released on the government’s own coronavirus information site, Japan is ahead of schedule and will be able to enter phase three of the cross-prefectural travel plan in three weeks’ time. Phase three will involve increased tourism promotion, which will be supported by the government’s new Go to Travel campaign, aimed at helping the countries struggling tourism and hospitality industries.

According to The Japan Times, the government has already begun its selection process for contractors to work on the campaign. The newspaper reports that, through this scheme, domestic tourists will receive discounts and coupons of up to ¥20,000 for each night of their holiday stay. Tourists on single-day trips will also receive coupons or discounts of up to ¥10,000. 

For advice on how to go out safely in Tokyo, or anywhere for that matter, check our guide.

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