In an extraordinary measure to boost tourism in Hokkaido, which has been hit hard by cancellations following the massive September 6 earthquake, the central government has instituted a program to subsidize both foreign and domestic tourists.
Under the so-called “Recovery Support Discount” program, tourists can have up to 70% of their travel costs covered by the Japanese government. This means that up to 20,000 yen (about US$177) per night of the costs may be picked up by the government—for five nights in the case of foreign travelers and for three nights in the case of Japanese.
The total Japanese government outlay for this program is budgeted at 15.3 billion yen (about US$135 million).
The Hokkaido Prefectural Government estimates that 29.2 billion yen (about US$258 million) in economic damage has been done by hotel and other tourist cancellations alone in the weeks following the earthquake.
The government has also decided to open a multilingual call center to help foreign tourists if they experience a natural disaster in Japan. There have been many complaints from foreign travelers that they were left uninformed in the disaster areas because most key information had been provided only in the Japanese language.
Hokkaido attracted 56.1 million tourists in FY2017, including nearly 2.8 million foreign tourists, with mainland Chinese making up the largest single national group. (AGB Nippon)