TOKYO Kyodo Japan will launch a new subsidy program to boost domestic tourism on October 11, the same day it plans to remove its daily cap for overseas arrivals as part of easing COVID 19 border control measures.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Thursday in New York that the National Travel Discount will replace the Go To Travel subsidy program and expand existing programs operating at the prefectural level.
The scheme is expected to provide up to 11,000 yen per day with discounts and coupons that can be used for meals, shopping and accommodation fees.
The government plans to announce details of the program as early as Monday, but it has raised doubts about whether it will boost regional economies.
With the start of the program less than three weeks away, tourism businesses and facilities have little time to prepare, as well as confusion about whether or not the program can be applied to new accommodation reservations.
The 47 prefectures will be allowed to suspend the scheme if they don't have to pay the costs borne by the prefectural authorities to implement such programs, under a system where the national government subsidizes the costs to implement such programs.
Prefectural governments will also have the authority to decide the scheme's running period or even whether to implement it at all, leading to the possibility that it may not be launched simultaneously across the country.
The program was to have been introduced in July but was postponed because of the seventh wave of coronaviruses.
There is a new date that cases are declining, in hopes of increased demand in domestic travel in the fall and winter.
One operator said implementing the scheme is complicated and time-consuming, despite the fact that the travel industry has welcomed the move. Small businesses will find it hard to follow through with the procedure, the tourism operator said.
Kishida said that the government plans to abolish its cap on daily arrivals on October 11, which is currently set at 50,000, as well as resume visa-free arrivals to the country.
Kishida spoke about the free flow of people, goods and money going to and from the rest of the world at a press conference in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.