• Kyodo

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The government’s Go To Travel subsidy campaign covered 25.18 million domestic overnight stays for about two months since its launch through the end of September, the tourist ministry’s preliminary figures showed Tuesday.

During that period, the government funded a total of ¥109.9 billion ($1 billion) in discounts under the program, which is aimed at boosting the tourism sector hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The program will last through the end of January.

Guests took advantage of the initiative which offered a 35 percent discount for hotels and package tour costs, paying on average ¥12,000 per person in lodging expenses.

Although some have pointed out that bookings are skewed toward luxury hotels rather than cheap ones, as guests find the program allows higher returns at expensive accommodations, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba told reporters Tuesday that travelers are using the campaign for “every price range.”

Around 16.89 million domestic overnight stays were covered by the program between July 22 and Sept. 15, with the government shouldering a total of ¥73.5 billion in discounts, according to the data from hotels and travel agencies across the country.

The number of stays and the amount of subsidies are expected to increase as the government added on Oct. 1 a 15 percent discount in the form of coupons for shopping and dining at travel destinations.

Moreover, travel to and from Tokyo, which was initially excluded from the campaign due to the high number of new virus infections, was added to the program the same day. Tokyoites comprise 10 percent of the domestic population.

The overall discount under the program is capped at ¥20,000 per person per night and at ¥10,000 for a day trip.

The government allocated ¥1.35 trillion for the initiative, estimating it would be used for 73 million overnight stays and 48 million day trips. The program may be extended past the end of January, if the budget does not run out.

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