TOKYO: Railway stations in Tokyo and airports across Japan were crowded on the first weekend since the Japanese capital was included in a government subsidy programme.
The “Go To Travel” campaign aims to revive domestic tourism and consumption that took a hard hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tokyo residents were first excluded in the programme that started in July due to the number of cases there. They were allowed to participate in the programme only last week.
According to a Kyodo News report, the weekend saw many Tokyo folk heading out to popular destinations such as Hokkaido and Okinawa at opposite ends of the country.
Travellers also headed out of Tokyo to other prefectures or took advantage of the subsidy to go on sightseeing tours within the capital.
However, there are concerns over a potential resurgence of the virus as large numbers of people travel out of Tokyo, the country’s hardest-hit city with a population of about 14 million.
Tokyo accounts for about 30 per cent of the more than 85,000 cases reported in the country.
But with Tokyo residents making up about 10 per cent of Japan’s population, it was crucial to get them on board the campaign to spur tourism.
The 1.35 trillion yen travel programme offers a 35 per cent discount on hotel and package tour costs.
An additional 15 per cent discount is given in the form of coupons that can be used for shopping or at restaurants while travelling. The overall discount is capped at 20,000 yen per person per night and at 10,000 yen for a day trip.
The coupons can be used for shopping, dining, visiting tourist facilities and transportation during trips and also at supermarkets and clothing store chains.
However, only about 117,000 businesses have registered so far to accept the coupons, despite the government’s projection of one million, making it potentially difficult for travellers to use the coupons at their destinations.
The government has also encouraged people to take days off during the week and telework from travel destinations in the style of a working vacation, or “workation”.
But its effectiveness is yet to be determined, as there are just two public holidays left this year and midweek travel in Japan is still rare.
© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd