From Japan to Belgium, countries around the world are encouraging locals to holiday within their own borders by subsiding trips. Jenny Southan reports
The Covid-19 pandemic means that for many millions of holidaymakers around the world, travelling to another country for a break is either too unsafe or is simply not viable due to regulations from the authorities.
Post-lockdown, the solution is travelling domestically (Domestic Sanctity was a trend Globetrender identified in its free Travel in the Age of Covid-19 report).
From this month, the Japanese government is covering up to half the cost of travel and accommodation for Japanese residents, as part of a US$10 billion “Go To Travel” campaign. But the reaction has been mixed because of fears that it could incite a second wave of coronavirus.
According to Monocle: “Although the intentions (and scale) are positive, the timing is awkward and reactions have been mixed as regional economies, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, seek to balance health risks with the much-needed business that travellers could bring.
“Following a spike in infections in Tokyo, the government unexpectedly revised the offer last week to exclude travel to and from the capital. In Osaka, the governor, Hirofumi Yoshimura, is eager for visitors from elsewhere in Japan to return as soon as possible while Ryuta Ibaragi, the governor of scenic Okayama, is all for excluding residents of Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures.
“Meanwhile, officials in the rural prefecture of Iwate, which is yet to record a single case of coronavirus, are not happy about the campaign at all, saying, ‘now is not the time’.”
According to the Financial Times, the “Go To” campaign entails the government paying half the cost of a holiday up to a limit of ¥20,000 ($186) per person per day. Of the subsidy, 70 per cent will come as a discount on travel costs, with the other 30 per cent as coupons redeemable at regional businesses.
In Europe, Switzerland has been considering giving every citizen a voucher worth CHF 200 to be spent in the nation’s tourism and hospitality sectors.
Belgium, meanwhile, is giving ten free train tickets to every resident, as well as a €300 tax-deductible voucher that workers can receive from their employers to use in restaurants, museums and theatres.
In the UK, the government is trying to motivate people to eat out in restaurants and cafes during August by offering 50 per cent off meals (up to £10 per head). With holiday accommodation venues now permitted to reopen and Boris Johnson urging Brits to opt for staycations over holidays abroad.
According to Parkdean Resorts’ Staycation Market report, on average, Brits are planning to spend £868.55 on their staycation this year.
The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has gone so far as suggesting a four-day working week to give employees more time to travel within their country after lockdown.