Japan quells rumors it will pay for half of visitors’ expenses

UPDATED: Foreign tourists dreaming of having 50 percent of their flight and travel to Japan paid for by the government may need to think again.

The Japan Tourism Agency on Wednesday dispelled rumors that the country is planning to offer a campaign that would pay half of visitors’ expenses as it seeks to revitalize the coronavirus-hit sector.

In a series of tweets in both English and Japanese, the agency said that the program under consideration would only cover “a portion of domestic travel expenses.”

Confusion over the Go To Travel Campaign, which is intended to stimulate domestic travel demand within the nation after the viral pandemic, apparently emerged after a media report initially said the program would cover half of travelers’ expenses.

The initial story, which was later corrected to reflect that the envisioned campaign would only cover an as-of-yet-undetermined portion of the costs, was quickly picked up — minus the correction — by Western news sites and blogs, prompting widespread confusion.

According to a summary of the government’s supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 released by the economy ministry, the proposed plan could see travel vouchers doled out for up to a maximum of ¥20,000 per person, per stay.

Media reports quoted Hiroshi Tabata, the head of the agency, as saying last week that if the virus was brought under control, they aimed to launch the Go To Travel Campaign in July at the earliest.

A mere 2,900 foreign travelers visited Japan in April, down 99.9 percent from a year earlier, government data showed last week. The data marked the first time the monthly figure had dropped below 10,000 since 1964. (Courtesy Japan Times)


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