Tokyo, Oct. 7 (Jiji Press)–New Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Tetsuo Saito has expressed a positive stance toward resuming the government’s Go To Travel domestic tourism promotion program.
“We’ll consider for sure” the resumption, Saito said in an interview with media organizations Wednesday.
Go To Travel, which provides effective subsidies to help cover travel and shopping costs, has been suspended across the country since late last year due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Calls for resuming the program are increasing mainly in the travel industry.
The government plans to restart the program after looking into the results of demonstration experiments for its planned measure to ease coronavirus restrictions on travel and other activities for those confirmed to have received COVID-19 vaccinations or tested negative for the virus, according to Saito.
“We’ll conduct experiments in cooperation with travel and accommodation businesses to test the operations and check the effectiveness of the vaccination and test package,” said Saito, who took office Monday.
Saito said that the government will consider when to resume Go To Travel based on experts’ opinions.
The government will discuss how to improve the program, which was criticized for causing trips to concentrate on weekend days and providing less benefit to small businesses and transportation service operators, he added.
On measures to mitigate natural disasters, Saito explained that the government’s five-year plan to make the country more disaster resilient includes intensive measures to enhance flood control, strengthen road networks and deal with aging infrastructure.
“There is a limit to the budget. How we get our priorities right and effectively use the limited budget is very important,” Saito said.
Saito said he knows that Hokkaido Railway Co., or JR Hokkaido, is trying to increase passengers and reduce costs in cooperation with local communities in the northernmost prefecture.
The government will provide assistance after examining how serious the company and local communities are about maintaining existing train lines, he added.