Japan’s domestic travel picks up steam


The tourism industry in Japan is showing signs of a gradual pickup after the novel coronavirus crisis dealt it a severe blow.

According to a Japan Times report, many lodging facilities that resumed business after the lifting of the government’s coronavirus state of emergency in May are seeing a gradual recovery in reservations this month, mainly from local customers. Financial aid from local governments for regional tourism has also contributed to a pickup in demand.

However, inbound tourists from outside Japan remain almost non-existent, and concerns over a second wave of coronavirus infections linger.

“Cancellations of domestic travel reservations have peaked out,” a Nippon Travel Agency Co. official said, adding that new inquiries started to increase this month.

According to Tokyo-based Tripla, which operates a travel reservation system, the number of reservations for 300 domestic hotels through the system fell to a record low in mid-April, but recovered to 70% of pre-coronavirus crisis levels in late May.

The pickup in domestic travel demand has been backed mainly by customers from nearby areas, the Japan Times report said.

Support by local governments is also helping drive tourism. Gunma Prefecture has begun a campaign to give its residents financial aid to cover part of costs for their stays at lodging facilities in the prefecture.

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, forming the country’s first level of administrative division. They include 43 proper prefectures, two urban prefectures, one circuit or territory and one metropolis.

The government’s request for refraining from travel across prefectural borders was lifted on Friday. However, concerns regarding the epidemic still remain, and people in the tourism industry are staying cautious despite the improved conditions.