Coronavirus and travel: Japan to offer subsidised flights to tourists

Following hot on the heels of a travel offer from the Italian island of Sicily, Japan is mulling over a plan which would offer subsidised flights to tourists.

It is part of a programme to help boost the country's devastated tourism industry.

Normally, Japan would be buzzing this time of year with the cherry blossom season, but last month it saw a 99.9 per cent drop in visitors year-on-year, reported Forbes. Only 2900 foreign travellers made the trip to Japan in April, according to Japan Today.

The idea of paying tourists to visit is still in the planning stage, and it is not certain if it will apply just to domestic travellers or if it will include international visitors.​

The cost of the programme is estimated to be around $US12.5 billion ($A19 billion) and could be starting as early as July, according to media reports.

Sicily recently offered to subsidise some of the costs of travelling there; paying for half of the airline ticket plus some hotel accommodation.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government will compile a fresh stimulus package worth about 100 trillion yen to provide financial support for companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe unveiled the new stimulus at a news conference as he declared an end to a coronavirus state of emergency across the nation, as he removed the measure in five remaining prefectures including Tokyo.

Abe said a Cabinet approval of funding for the additional stimulus package is expected later this week.


The package would bring the amount of spending to more than 200 trillion yen, he said. The government earlier compiled a 117 trillion yen stimulus package.

Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the US and the Europe despite its softer restrictions.

But the world's third-largest economy is fallen into a recession, and public discontent over Abe's handling of the coronavirus has sent his support ratings tumbling.

See also: When will we be able to visit our 10 favourite overseas destinations?

See also: Twenty things that will surprise first-time visitors to Japan