On paper, Go to Travel is a brilliant idea. The domestic tourism subsidy offers up to 50 percent discount on travels within Japan, incentivising residents to explore the country while revitalising the local economy, which has suffered tremendously due to Covid-19.
However, when it’s implemented during a volatile global pandemic, things get complicated. It is a tricky tight-rope walk trying to balance public health and economic revival.
Tokyo was initially excluded from the subsidy as infections surged in the capital, but was later admitted back into the campaign in October. Just last month, as Japan began to see what many have called the third wave of the virus, Osaka and Sapporo were temporarily taken off the Go to Travel programme for three weeks in an effort to curb the virus spread.
Despite these challenges, the national government is looking to extend the campaign, which is currently set to end in January next year, for a few more months until June 2021. According to The Japan Times, the government could confirm this as part of a new stimulus plan to be revealed early this month.
If this extension were to be approved, the government is considering bringing down the value of the discounts so that the campaign can run longer. Currently, a ¥1.35 trillion budget has been set aside to finance the Go to Travel campaign.
This is a developing story. We will update as soon as more information is available.