Japan's domestic travel subsidy program, launched in July to help revive tourism within the country hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, will cover half of travelers' costs from October, up from the current 35 percent, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Tuesday.
Under the "Go To Travel" campaign, travelers in Japan now enjoy a 35 percent discount to their expenses centering on accommodation fees, but can save more from Oct. 1 as they will receive coupons worth 15 percent of the total costs that can be used for food, shopping and other activities offered at destinations.
Akaba said the coupons are expected to "recover lost travel demand as well as widely spur consumption at local destinations."
The 1.35 trillion yen ($12.7 billion) subsidy program, however, currently excludes travel to and from Tokyo, which has seen the worst coronavirus infections among the 47 prefectures.
The central government will subsidize up to 20,000 yen per person for each overnight stay, and 10,000 yen for day trips including transportation costs.
The coupons, to be dispensed by hotels and travel agencies to their customers or made available via smartphones, will be in units of 1,000 yen. They can be used at restaurants, souvenir shops, and tourist attractions and on transportation systems at the travel destinations or nearby areas.
At least 7.81 million travelers took advantage of the 35 percent discount to stay at destinations from July 27 through last Thursday, after the program began on July 22, according to preliminary data of the Japan Tourism Agency.