• Kyodo, Reuters

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Japan’s new tourism minister said Tuesday he will look into when to restart the government’s Go To Travel subsidy program for the promotion of domestic tourism, following the full lifting of the COVID-19 state of emergency last week.

“We will consider the situation regarding coronavirus infections and consider when to resume the program,” said Tetsuo Saito. “It is a program crucial for the recovery of tourist sites and local economies.”

A day after assuming his ministerial post, Saito said he had been instructed by new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to help the battered tourism sector while maintaining anti-virus measures.

The Go To Travel program, which began in July last year, helped boost domestic travel but was put on hold by the end of the year amid fears it would help the virus spread.

“It is important to balance the prevention of contagion and the promotion of tourism,” Saito said.

While international travel is still largely limited due to the pandemic, Saito said the government would uphold its goal of attracting 60 million foreign visitors to Japan by 2030.

The Go To Travel campaign subsidizes up to half of travelers’ expenses. The overall discount was capped at ¥20,000 per person per night and ¥10,000 for a day trip.

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