Japan to maintain 60 million tourist target for 2030: Cabinet secretary Suga

A view of the domestic departure lobby of Tokyo's Haneda airport on July 25, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan plans to stick to its target of attracting 60 million foreign tourists by 2030, the top government spokesman said in an interview, seeking to almost double the size of an industry that virtually came to a standstill during the coronavirus outbreak.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in an interview that the need to keep hotels and traditional inns afloat to reach that target is one reason he has pressed ahead with subsidies for domestic travel, despite criticism that the policy risks further spreading the virus.

"We definitely won't allow hotels and inns to go bankrupt," Mr Suga told Bloomberg on Thursday (Aug 27).

He said he planned to maintain employment subsidies to protect jobs in the industry.

"The government will continue support until the coronavirus outbreak is over," he said.

Mr Suga said that starting up a casino-resort sector was essential for attracting visitors.

Media polls, however, consistently show the public is against the idea, particularly after a corruption scandal erupted last year involving a lawmaker, while operators have grown disenchanted due to regulatory concerns.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan fell by 99.9 per cent in July to just 3,800 people, after a ban was imposed on most non-nationals entering the country.

That came after the nation hit a record of almost 32 million visitors in 2019.

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