In view of a recent resurgence in cases of coronavirus in the two famous tourist destinations, Japan will withdraw Osaka and Sapporo from their domestic travel support campaign three weeks from the start of Tuesday, said the government.
At a news conference, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister responsible for Japan's virus response, said that the Government would cover cancellation charges for pre-booked trips to both cities and reimburse businesses affected by the suspension.
Residents of Sapporo will still be eligible for the "Go To Travel" campaign, which essentially pays about half of the domestic costs of travel in support of the touristic industry to overcome the pandemic, on Japan's most northerly main Island of Hokkaido and Osaka in Western Japan.
But the Group of National Governors advised the central government to consider excluding from the campaign trips carried out for citizens of the two cities.
"Many governors are worried about people coming from areas where infections are spreading. I want (the government) to think of thorough measures," Tokushima Gov. Kamon Iizumi, who heads the association, said during an online meeting with Nishimura, who made no clear response to the request.
Minister of Tourism, Kazuyoshi Akaba, said that the suspension was a painful decision as it will greatly impact both travellers and the tourism industry."
Those who have booked tours in excluded towns can receive discounts during the campaign by December 1.
On Saturday Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, one day after the government panel of healthcare experts suggested a review of a campaign, declared a stop to the programme, without any information on affected destinations, timeframes, or other details.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chief Secretary of Cabinet Katsunobu, Suga discussed with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike the central government travel campaign strategy and the metropolitan government's response.
Koike did not touch on what she discussed with Suga, merely telling reporters at the metropolitan government office building, "We will firmly take measures to tackle the coronavirus in collaboration with the central government."
The "Go To Travel" campaign was launched in late July, but trips to and from Tokyo were initially excluded due to a high number of infections in the capital. Such trips were added on Oct 1.
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