When travel resumes it can only be expected that people will still have hesitations about flying overseas, especially to countries that were hard hit by the coronavirus.
To combat this and entice people to visit, earlier this month the Italian island of Sicily announced that it would pay for a portion of travellers flights and accommodation costs if they visit post-pandemic. Now it seems Japan is looking to make a similar offer.
According to reports, the Japanese government are considering a plan to boost tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus restrictions ease. The plan would involve allocating a ¥1.35 trillion (AU $19 billion) package that would go towards covering some of people’s travel expenses.
At the moment, it is just a proposal with very few details revealed, however according to Hiroshi Tabata of the Japan Tourism Agency, if the plan is approved, the initiative could take effect as early as July.
Initially – while international travel is off-limits – the package will be directed towards domestic tourists, yet, we wouldn’t rule out the potential for this offer to extend to international tourists later this year.
Due to the coronavirus, Japan’s tourism is down 99.9 per cent. In April this year, only 2,900 tourists visited Japan compared to the 2,926,685 people who visited in April 2019. Not only did the virus stop thousands of people visiting Japan during its peak cherry blossom season yet the country was also gearing up to host the 2020 Olympics which had to be postponed.
Despite losing out on tourism (as most countries have), Japan has been hailed as one of the COVID-19 success stories. After taking proactive measures, the country has only recorded 16,433 infections and 784 deaths – which, considering the population size of 126 million, proves to be rather well managed. Experts believe the country’s universal healthcare system, low obesity rates, expertise in treating pneumonia and well-established hygiene habits also played a factor in the relatively low number of cases.
So if Japan was a country on your radar, keep it in mind, because there is a chance that the government will fund part of your trip or offer tourist vouchers like Sicily. To keep you inspired, here’s a guide to help you uncover all the best spots to visit in Japan, including the popular shrines, onsens, restaurants and attractions.
Or, read our favourite travel stories from Japan: