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Japan to subsidize tourist’s travel expenses to kick-start their tourism sector

According to Japan Times, the Japan Tourism Agency is planning to kick start its tourism economy with a ¥1.35 trillion ($12.5 billion) stimulus package to offset one’s travel cost as a tourist.

This aggressive plan applies to domestic travelers but it is still unclear at the moment if it will also apply to foreign tourists. These subsidies could start as soon as July, depending on when travel restrictions eases up.

This program would be somewhat similar to what Sicily in Southern Italy offered last month where they pay for half of its tourist’s flight cost plus a third of their hotel bill to lure tourists back to the popular destination. Sicily also provided complimentary access tickets to many of its historical sites.

While Japan was initially bracing for a hard hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, it has fared much better than a lot of other nations. The country of 126 million people has had only about 16,000 infections and under 800 deaths as it took early proactive measures, universal healthcare, low obesity rates, expertise in treating pneumonia as well as a culture that is already known for its excellent hygiene habits and social-distancing skills.

However, according to Kyodo News, Japan has seen a staggering drop of 99.99% for international arrivals year over year since April 2019 with only 2,900 tourists visiting in April 2020. This is the first time since 1964 that the figure has slipped below 10,000 when the government start compiling such statistic with the previous low of 17,543 was recorded in February of 1964.

The accumulated number of foreign visitors between January and April stood at 3.94 million, down 64.1 percent from a year earlier, the data showed. Last year, Japan recorded the highest tourism number ever on record with more than 32.5 million international visitors.

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