In the post-pandemic era, it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get people to feel comfortable enough to board a plane for an international trip. Airlines are spearheading new safety and sanitation measures designed to give travelers peace of mind, but destinations themselves still need to create incentives to visit. Japan might be making domestic travelers an offer that’s pretty hard to refuse, potentially covering part of the travel expenses for their trip.
In a news conference from May 20, 2020, according to the The Japan Times, Hiroshi Tabata of the Japan Tourism Agency said that the Japanese government plans to allocate $12.5 billion to a new holiday subsidies program, which could launch as soon as July. The program would cover domestic travel expenses in the form of discounts and vouchers to be used at local shops and restaurants to encourage people to explore more of the country. It would apply to tourists who make bookings through Japanese travel agencies or directly with hotels and traditional ryokan inns.
Japanese news outlet Kyodo News previously reported that the scheme would pay for half of foreign travelers’ flights; however, this has been corrected. Although the program doesn’t exclude foreign visitors who will travel domestically within Japan, the country currently has an international travel ban in place, prohibiting foreigners from entering.
In April, Japan reported a 99.9 percent drop in tourism from the previous year, so the country is understandably eager to stimulate its tourism industry, especially considering the rescheduling of the 2020 Olympics.
Japan would be following the lead of other countries eager to encourage tourism this summer. Last month, Sicily announced a new program that would reimburse travelers for their trips, covering half of their flight and a third of their hotel expenses.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published on May 23, 2020, stating that the Japanese government might pay for half of your trip there, based on statement from Kyodo News. This piece was updated on May, 27, 2020 to reflect the clarification that the subsidy will only apply to domestic travel, not international.