Railway stations in Tokyo and airports across Japan were crowded Saturday, the first weekend since travel to and from the capital was included in a government subsidy program.
Taking advantage of the Go To Travel campaign aimed at reviving domestic tourism and consumption battered by the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyoites headed to popular destinations such as Hokkaido and Okinawa.
Misako Yoshimura, 57, a housewife from Tokyo’s Nerima Ward, took a trip with her husband to Hokkaido to play golf.
“We want to relax and enjoy ourselves, while still being careful about infection,” she said, adding that the campaign had covered about 50 percent of their travel costs.
Tokyo, which was added to the subsidy program Thursday, was initially excluded when it started in July due to a spike in the number of coronavirus infections at the time.
Flights from Tokyo to Naha Airport in Okinawa were busy. A 27-year-old man arriving from the capital on a two-day trip said he appreciated the chance to travel more cheaply and was looking forward to his stay. “I want to unwind,” he said.
Travelers also headed out of Tokyo to other prefectures or took advantage of the subsidy to go on sightseeing tours within the capital.
“It’s the first time I’ve left Tokyo since the virus was at its height,” said Nobuyuki Hosoi, 46, who was departing from Tokyo Station for Shizuoka Prefecture with two other family members. “I want to use the money the campaign is saving us on our trip.”
However, there are concerns over a potential resurgence of the coronavirus as large numbers of people travel out of Tokyo, which has a population of about 14 million.
“Although I know the economy has to be restored, I feel worried if people start traveling more,” said a woman in her 30s, who was leaving the capital for Aichi Prefecture. “I think it’s difficult to strike a balance between the pros and cons.”
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