The Japan Tourism Agency announced on Friday a review of the government’s Go To Travel campaign, saying that the travel discount program may be restricted to only cover stays of up to seven nights per trip.
The revision reflects the fact that many long-term trips are for business purposes, not for sightseeing, according to the government agency.
The agency previously did not set an upper limit on the number of nights per trip covered by the campaign, which kicked off in late July to aid the tourism industry, which has taken a massive hit from the pandemic.
The new rule will apply to travel products going on sale on Nov. 17 and later. For trips longer than seven nights, the first seven nights will be eligible for the program, but the rest will not be covered.
The agency has already decided to exclude trips from the Go To Travel campaign in which sightseeing is not the main purpose, such as accommodation plans that include yoga experiences and lessons for acquiring a diving license. Travel products with services whose prices far exceed lodging costs and business trips will not be covered by the program, starting with products to be sold from Nov. 6.
The agency also said that the process of screening travel agencies’ applications for subsidies under the state-funded program will be reviewed to shorten the period between the applications and the remittances of the benefits to three weeks or less in principle from up to two months. In addition, such applications will be accepted online from November.
By Oct. 15, a total of 31.38 million people had made trips that lasted at least one night using the Go To Travel program, according to the agency.
The number was up by as much as 6.2 million from the end of September. Trips to and from Tokyo were included in the campaign from Oct. 1.
The amount of subsidies paid out under the campaign totaled ¥139.7 billion as of Oct. 15, up by ¥29.8 billion from the end of September.
Tokyo was initially excluded from the Go To Travel campaign because of a spike in novel coronavirus infections in the capital.
Under the program, 35% of travel costs are discounted and coupons that can be used at travel destinations worth 15% of the costs are distributed.
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