Japan considers extending Go To Travel subsidy campaign past January

The Japanese government is considering extending its domestic travel subsidy program beyond late January due to the need for continued support for the struggling tourism industry, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.
Although a new end date is yet to be determined, some ruling party members are calling for an extension through spring for the Go To Travel campaign, which was launched in late July to revive domestic tourism and consumption battered by the coronavirus pandemic, they said.
The government will look into drafting a third supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 as well as using reserve funds in the event the campaign budget of approximately 1.35 trillion yen is used up, according to the sources.
The travel campaign, which offers a 35 percent discount for hotels and package tour costs, began on July 22, although travel to and from Tokyo was initially excluded due to the high number of new virus infections there at the time.
On Oct. 1, the capital, representing 10 percent of the domestic population, was added to the program and an additional 15 percent discount started the same day in the form of coupons for shopping and dining at travel destinations.
Tetsuo Saito, deputy leader of the Komeito Party -- a junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party -- suggested to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday that the travel campaign should be extended until the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May.
Saito said Suga told him that the program "is not going to end when the budget runs out, and will be reviewed according to the circumstances."
Some LDP members and local municipalities have also called for its extension.
The end of January is "a tentative" end date, said tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba. "We will watch the implementation of the budget to make an appropriate decision for an end date."
The subsidy initiative covered 25.18 million domestic overnight stays in its first two months through the end of September, with the government funding a total of 109.9 billion yen in discounts, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

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