Woman dressed in kimono at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto
Photo: Antoine Cantoro/Unsplash

Japan’s new Go to Travel subsidy will help pay for your domestic vacation

Domestic travellers can receive subsidies up to ¥20,000 to explore Japan

By
Kasey Furutani
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[Update, May 28] The Japan Tourism Agency has confirmed over Twitter that the Go to Travel campaign is only for domestic tourism. The organisation also mentioned that the subsidy is ‘still under consideration by the Japanese government’. The main objective of the campaign is to increase domestic travel in the aftermath of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and to support local businesses.

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There’s plenty to look forward to on the other side of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic: going outside, eating at restaurants and, of course, travelling. As Japan reopens and the world slowly adjusts to the new normal, countries are making initial steps to restart tourism. According to several news reports, the Japanese government has revealed the Go to Travel initiative, which will provide vouchers and discounts of up to ¥20,000 for domestic travel within the country. 

The initiative is designed to give people a much-needed vacation, and at the same time, help boost hotels and local businesses struggling under coronavirus restrictions, which have adversely affected both domestic and international travel. The programme is still under consideration, but according to Japan Today, it could start as early as late July. The subsidies will only be available for bookings made through Japanese travel agencies or directly with the hotel or ryokan. 

The Japan Times reports that only 2,900 travellers from overseas visited Japan in April, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The last time the monthly number of tourists fell below 10,000 was in 1964. The 99.9 percent drop in travellers is due to the pandemic and Japan’s entry restrictions for non-citizens. Originally, Japan’s goal had been to welcome 40 million tourists in 2020 to grow the economy; last year, 31.9 million visitors travelled to Japan from overseas.

Exact details on the Go to Travel programme are still limited, but as of now, it only applies to domestic travel. No word yet on residency requirements. Entry to Japan for non-citizens is still restricted. However, the ban could be lifted as early as the end of June. For the time being, we can all start preparing our Japan itineraries.

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