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The government will give financial aid to tourism promotion initiatives aimed at local residents by prefectures with few coronavirus infections, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Friday.

Akaba also said that the government is considering resuming the Go To Travel subsidy campaign, currently on hiatus due to the virus epidemic, in June or later.

Under the new aid program, the government will give up to ¥7,000 per person per night for trips under the prefectural initiatives.

The move aims to spur travel demand while containing infections amid the prolonged suspension of the nationwide Go To Travel campaign.

The aid program will run from April to the end of May, and will be funded by ¥300 billion from the Go To Travel budget.

"We want to announce (the restart of the Go To Travel scheme) once infections calm down," Akaba said in a news conference.

Prefectures in Stage 2 on the country's four-tier epidemic alert scale will be covered by the new aid, which will only target tourism promotion initiatives for residents of the same prefecture.

The program will subsidize half of accommodation expenses, with a ceiling of ¥5,000 per person per night. In addition, an extra ¥2,000 per person will be given if initiatives also promote dining or shopping during trips, in the form of coupons that can be used at restaurants and souvenir stores.

Also under the program, the government will provide assistance of up to ¥7,000 per head for a day trip.

The Go To Travel campaign has been on halt for about three months since Dec. 28 last year. The government has no plans of resuming the initiative at the moment, despite having fully lifted the coronavirus state of emergency earlier in March.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, 27 prefectures are conducting original programs for travel and accommodation discounts aimed at local residents. Such regions had been calling on the central government to support the tourism industry.

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