Japan to exclude Sapporo, Osaka from travel subsidy for 3 weeks

Kyodo -- Nov 24
Japan will exclude Sapporo and Osaka from its domestic travel subsidy campaign for three weeks due to a recent resurgence in coronavirus cases in the two popular tourist destinations, senior government officials said Tuesday.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of Japan's virus response, said at a news conference that the government will cover cancellation fees for pre-booked trips to the two cities and compensate businesses affected by the suspension, due to take effect following a formal decision to be made later in the day.

Trips by residents of Sapporo on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido and Osaka in western Japan to other areas will continue to be eligible for the "Go To Travel" campaign, which effectively shoulders about half of domestic travel expenses to help the tourism industry weather the impact of the pandemic.

The minister said the suspension will only target travel destinations where the health care system is hard-pressed following record numbers of infections, which some medical experts said were triggered by the campaign.

Tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said the suspension was "a painful decision as it will greatly impact both travelers and the tourism industry."

In a related move, farm minister Kotaro Nogami said the central government will ask prefectural governments to consider halting the issuance of "Go To Eat" discount coupons, aimed at encouraging dining out at restaurants, and urging people to refrain from using them.

- Kyodo