TOKYO -- The Japanese government has decided it will restart "Go To Travel" domestic tourism subsidy program as early as January 2022, depending on the progress of certain COVID-19 medications.
Figures in the tourism industry and others who have been hit by the coronavirus crisis had sought an earlier campaign restart, but the government has decided it needs first to see if oral medications to prevent severe COVID-19 symptoms can be approved for use by the end of 2021. Proof of vaccination, negative tests and other documentation are also expected to be a part of the restarted campaign.
In the Go To Travel campaign, the government subsidizes a part of individual vacationers' travel costs. It began in July 2020, but was suspended in December of the same year when coronavirus infections surged.
At a nighttime press conference on Nov. 10, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said regarding the restart, "We will use vaccines and tests to create a safer and more secure system. I want to comprehensively review it, and decide on a time for it based on a thorough examination of the state of infections."
The government hopes to have the oral medication in use by the end of the year. Furthermore, booster vaccinations for older people will begin in earnest in January 2022. A government source said, "The important components for coronavirus infections countermeasures will come together (by the end of January)."
Some have pointed out that travelers tended to concentrate at major hotels and on weekends during last year's Go To Travel. In response, the government has decided the next round will include increased perks for weekday trips and stays at medium to small businesses' hotels and inns.
(Japanese original by Shiho Fujibuchi, Shun Kawaguchi and Soon Lee, Political News Department)