Japan plans to pay for a part of your trip

In the wake of the most dismal passenger arrival numbers since records were first kept, Japan is attempting to kickstart tourism again, with subsidised holidays.

The Japan Tourism Agency this week proposed paying foreigners a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.

The ¥1.35 trillion ($12.5 billion) programme could start in July if novel coronavirus infections subside soon, Hiroshi Tabata, chief of the agency, was quoted as saying by The Japan Times.

However, details of the proposed scheme are still unclear.

An estimated 2,900 foreign travellers visited Japan in April, down 99.9 per cent from a year earlier, amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest government data.

It is the first time that the monthly figure, which was released Wednesday, has slipped below the 10,000 mark since 1964, when the Japan Tourism Agency began compiling such statistics. The percentage decrease was also the largest ever.

The previous low for monthly foreign visitors was 17,543, recorded in February 1964.

The figure fell in April for the seventh consecutive month since October, when a significant drop in visitors from South Korea and a devastating typhoon halted the trend of increasing numbers of visitors from overseas.

Japan expanded its travel restrictions in early April, bringing the number of countries from which foreign nationals were barred from entry to about 70, including all parts of China and South Korea, as well as the United States and most of Europe.

The accumulated number of foreign visitors between January and April stood at 3.94 million, down 64.1 per cent from a year earlier, the data showed.

Japan’s entry ban, aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, was expanded to about 100 countries this month.

In recent years, inbound tourism has been one of the few sectors to see rapid growth in the long-stagnant economy.

But the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics initially scheduled for July, dealing a heavy blow to the inbound tourism drive spearheaded by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Photo: Hostelsworld.com

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