Japan to run new domestic travel subsidy program until late December

Japan will run a new domestic tourism subsidy program from Oct 11 to late December as part of efforts to spur domestic tourism and revive the coronavirus-hit economy, tourism minister Tetsuo Saito said Monday.
The National Travel Discount will provide the equivalent of up to 11,000 yen in discounts and coupons per traveler per day, which can be used for meals, shopping and accommodation expenses.
The measure comes in line with a plan to remove the daily cap for overseas arrivals, currently set at 50,000, on Oct 11 as part of easing COVID-19 border control measures.
Japan will also resume individual visa-free travel from abroad that day.
Airports and seaports across Japan will start preparations to resume international operations suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference.
The government will also start a program on Oct 11 to offer discounts for event admission fees for people who have been vaccinated at least three times or present proof of a negative COVID-19 test, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
Under the program, a 20 percent discount of up to 2,000 yen will be offered for events that are held by the end of January next year at theme parks and sports and music venues, for example, that take antivirus measures.
The National Travel Discount program, which is available to Japan residents only, comes in the wake of the Go To Travel subsidy program and expands on similar existing programs operating at the prefectural level.
Under a system where the national government subsidizes the costs borne by prefectural authorities to implement such programs, the 47 prefectures will be allowed to suspend the scheme depending on the infection situation within their jurisdiction.
Prefectural governments will have the authority to determine the scheme's running period or whether to implement it at all, leading to the possibility that it may not be launched simultaneously across the country.
The new program was initially planned to be introduced in July but was postponed due to the nation's seventh wave of infections.
A total of 87.81 million people took advantage of the Go To Travel program from July 22, 2020, until it ended on Dec. 28, 2020, due to the coronavirus spread.

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