The Japanese government will continue to implement its domestic tourism subsidy program through next year, tourism minister Tetsuo Saito said Friday, although the start date will depend on COVID-19 infection rates.

The National Travel Discount program, originally planned to last until Dec. 27, provides a financial subsidy of up to 11,000 yen ($79) a night per person for up to a total of seven days, but the subsidy will now be reduced to a maximum 7,000 yen per night from 2023.

A street in Kyoto is crowded with tourists on Oct. 11, 2022. Japan significantly eased COVID-19 border controls the same day while starting the National Travel Discount program, except for Tokyo. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The year-end and New Year holidays will not be subject to the government's tourism-boosting subsidy program for residents of Japan.

The program began on Oct. 11 in all of Japan's 47 prefectures except Tokyo, which joined the scheme later in the month.

Under the new plan, package tours that include charter bus and rail travel costs will be subsidized up to 5,000 yen, down from 8,000 yen. Those going on day trips or only paying for accommodation can obtain a subsidy of up to 3,000 yen, instead of the current 5,000 yen.

Related coverage:

More deaths, elderly cases fuel concern about Japan's new COVID wave

Japan foreign arrivals in Oct. up 22.5-fold from 2021

Tourists enjoy 1st weekend after Japan scraps COVID border controls