The government is hoping grants and coupons will help encourage people to travel again.

Since the beginning of the pandemic and the social distancing recommendations, the tourism and hospitality industry in Japan has been in trouble. To be safe, people have generally avoided traveling to popular tourists spots like Kyoto, and with major attractions closed, popular events cancelled, and even some scenic outdoor hiking spots barred off, local hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops are suffering from the lack of customers.

▼ Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizuderu Temple, normally thronged with tourists, is as empty during the day now as it is in this picture, which was taken after closing hours on a normal day.

Luckily, things seems to be looking much better for the country. Prime Minister Abe lifted the state of emergency for the whole country on May 25, and the jishuku, or stay-at-home, recommendations will also be gradually lifted over the next two months, so perhaps there will be a chance for the industry to recover. Once things are back up and running, the government also plans to implement the Go To Campaign to help boost the tourism industry by subsidizing the cost of domestic travel.

Enacted on May 25, the Go To Campaign will be implemented at the end of July. This 1.7 trillion yen ($15.8 billion) policy is intended to incentivize travel by providing grants to cover half the cost of a hotel stay (up to 20,000 yen per night), coupons for souvenir shops, restaurant meal tickets with “premium” add-ons, discounts for event tickets, and more.

▼ Hopefully hot spring resort areas like Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata will be revitalized by this initiative.

The end of July puts it at just the right time for summer vacation, when, in a normal year, kids are off school and many families travel, if not for leisure then to return to their rural home towns and visit their families. With many people having lost their jobs or a significant portion of their income, hopefully these measures will help families have the ability to travel while also helping restore local economies and small businesses.

Most of all, though, we hope that the virus continues to decline in the country, and that by the end of July it will be safe for everyone to travel. Fingers crossed!

Source: Livedoor News via Goldentimes
Top image: Pakutaso

Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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