Government to subsidize Kyushu tourism in bid to help region recover from quakes

Kyodo

The government said Tuesday it will use the first batch of its recently approved extra budget to revive tourism and rebuild businesses in quake-rattled Kyushu.

Of the ¥778 billion earmarked in the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, ¥18 billion will be spent on subsidizing accommodation and travel costs for visitors to the seven prefectures in Kyushu between July and December, the Finance Ministry said.

Tourists looking to tap the discounts will have to buy package tours as the money will first be given to the prefectures and then to travel agencies in the form of subsidies.

A wave of deadly quakes first struck the area on April 14, knocking out infrastructure and destroying homes.

Around 750,000 people cancelled hotel bookings. The ministry hopes to bring 1.5 million tourists there during the campaign period, which runs through December.

Also in the budget, ¥2 billion will go toward inviting journalists from South Korea, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan in a bid to promote the region to potential tourists overseas, the ministry said.

The support measures will be financed through a ¥700 billion reserve fund set aside in the extra budget. Its usage can be decided by Cabinet approval.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet approved the allocation of ¥102.3 billion from the reserve fund, including the ¥18 billion program for tourism promotion.

The rest of the money will be spent on measures such as subsidizing farmers and small- and medium-size businesses, and restoring infrastructure such as roads and bridges.