Go To travel campaign thrown into disarray after minister's remarks
Japan Today -- Jul 18
Japan's travel subsidy campaign was thrown into deeper confusion Friday when officials had to quickly clarify a recommendation by the tourism minister regarding the contentious program, with his stance on covering cancellation fees facing opposition from a senior member of the ruling coalition.

Tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba urged young people and seniors in large group tours not to use the campaign, citing the risk they may spread the coronavirus and, in the case of the elderly, develop severe symptoms.

He said specific age groups and size of tours subject to the advisory were under consideration. But an official at the Japan Tourism Agency said later it would ultimately leave it to the discretion of travel agencies as "it would be difficult to draw a line due to the diverse nature of travel."

The agency is affiliated with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism headed by Akaba.

On Thursday, the government revised the travel initiative shortly before its start on Wednesday, excluding Tokyo from the program after the capital reported a record number of new coronavirus cases, remaining the area hardest hit by the virus.

The abrupt decision prompted cancellations by people living in Tokyo or planning to visit the capital under the Go To travel campaign, which is designed to encourage domestic trips to help revive the virus-hit economy.

Akaba said the government had no plan to make up for fees incurred by such people. But Noritoshi Ishida, policy chief of the Komeito party, called on the government to "consider (compensating for) cancellation fees" following the exclusion of Tokyo from the campaign. The party is the junior ruling coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Under the 1.35 trillion yen tourism push, the campaign will eventually subsidize up to half of travel expenses, including accommodation and transport fees, with the government initially providing discounts worth 35 percent of total costs.

The remaining 15 percent will be covered by coupons to be issued after September for food, shopping and other travel activities offered at destinations, according to the tourism ministry.

The government decided to exclude trips to and from Tokyo from the controversial initiative amid concern that the planned nationwide campaign would contribute to a resurgence in virus infections.

「GoToトラベル」について東京が対象外とされて困惑が広がっていますが、対象について新たなことが分かってきています。  一転した“東京外し”にショックが隠しきれません。「東京への観光」、そして「都外への観光」が対象外となったGoToトラベル。キャンペーンに消極的だった小池都知事は・・・。  東京都・小池知事:「今回、国の責任において行うということでありますので、説明のほうも都民に伝えて頂ければと」  さらに、外れるのは“東京”だけではなさそうです。  赤羽国交大臣:「若者の団体旅行、重症化しやすい高齢者の団体旅行、大人数の宴会を伴う旅行など感染リスクの高い旅行は控えることが望ましい」  高齢者や地方からの客が多く訪れる浅草にとっては大きな痛手です。5月は売り上げがほぼゼロだったという人力車。起爆剤としての期待とともに、複雑な思いも抱いていました。周辺の飲食店も肩を落とします。抹茶スイーツ店も諦めモードです。  お濃茶スイーツ専門店雷一茶塩谷龍司代表:「『今、東京に来たいのか』ということを考えますと、好んで来たい人はいないんじゃないかと」  地方の観光地は今回の東京除外をどう見ているのでしょうか。  天童ホテル・押野茂社長:「(感染者の)多い地域からいらっしゃって、万が一、感染者が少ない地域で増えるのを大変、危惧している」  伊勢美人本舗・平生秀彦店長:「東京だけ除外という話がありますが、大阪、名古屋もでていますので、時機を見て実施したほうが良い」  厳しい状況が続く観光業。それでも独自の対策で予約が殺到している宿があります。埼玉にある宿泊施設はバーベキューなどが用意され、従業員との接触も極力減らします。もう一つの売りが交通手段です。ヘリコプターでの移動と宿泊がセットになり、価格は一人約6万円からです。  このご時世、人気は「貸し切り」です。千葉県にある宿は貸し切りでも一人あたり1万円程度です。こちらは千葉県だけにキャンペーンへの期待もありますが・・・。  太陽と星が輝く宿・季楽~KIRA~、菅井直美代表:「使い方も分からないというのが一番で、旅行会社に聞いても分からないと言われてしまう。

News sources: Japan Today, ANNnewsCH
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