Discount ceiling for travel subsidy to be raised

The Japanese government plans to increase the maximum discount for its travel subsidy program, while encouraging people to make trips on weekdays. The program is intended to help revive the tourism industry.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said on Wednesday he plans to expand coverage of the program to the entire country in early July if the coronavirus situation further improves.

Under the current program, each of Japan's prefectures can offer travel discounts and shopping vouchers to residents using government subsidies.

The program covers travel within the prefecture and the surrounding areas.

The maximum discount is currently 5,000 yen, or about 37 dollars, per person per night, plus up to 2,000 yen in shopping vouchers.

NHK has learned that when the eligible travel area is expanded, the government plans to increase the ceiling to 8,000 yen per person per night if public transport is used.

It also plans to lower the voucher limit to 1,000 yen per night for holiday trips, while raising it to 3,000 yen for weekdays. This step is aimed at helping reduce holiday congestion.

The subsidy program is expected to be in place through the end of August, excluding the Obon Buddhist festival period.

Officials say each prefecture will be able to decide whether to implement the subsidy campaign, and which areas it covers, even after the government expands it nationwide.

The government hopes the planned expansion of the subsidy campaign will stimulate the tourism and public transport industries.