Japan launched a GoTo Travel-campaign late summer to help the domestic hospitality sector when the country stays closed for international tourist arrivals.
GoTo Travel subsidizes 35% of the accommodation and other activity costs while an additional 15% is provided in coupons usable at local merchants, bringing the discount to 50% (at least sometimes – hotels have inflated their prices).
There were issues when the program started because those living in the Tokyo prefecture were excluded, and GoTo Travel discounts/rebates were not eligible for the capital.
Now, Japan has decided to suspend the program altogether from December 28 to January 11, 2021, when recently it was extended from January through the summer of 2021.
Here’s an excerpt from the Japan Times:
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday abruptly announced that the Go To Travel campaign will be suspended nationwide from Dec. 28 to Jan. 11 — a drastic policy shift amid heavy government spending aimed at simultaneously rebooting the economy and containing the virus.
His remarks suggest that efforts to concurrently keep the economy functioning and contain the virus have hit a wall, with record-breaking cases emerging nationwide almost daily since late October.
“The end of the year and the beginning of a new year would be a period that is possible to concentrate efforts to curb the new patients as they exceeded 3,000 this day. Therefore, I’ve made a decision to temporarily suspend Go To Travel nationwide,” Suga later told reporters.
The covid-19 situation in Japan:
The number of recorded infections and deaths is meager in Japan compared to other industrial nations.
The GoTo Travel-campaign has been plagued with problems and excessive payments to private companies who administer it.
Some parts of the country have been in and out of the program due to the rise and fall of Covid-19 infections. Also, several prefectures have discouraged travel and eating/going out, while the GoTo Travel-campaign goal has been the exact opposite. Mixed signals to the population.
Let’s see if the entire program is canned come January 2021. Probably too big of a loss of face to do the right thing for the new Prime Minister.