The Japanese government initiated the Go To Travel campaign on 22 July 2020, offering deep discounts on hotel charges and issuing coupons to be used for any consumption at travel destinations in Japan. In the present study, we aimed to describe the possible epidemiological impact of the tourism campaign on increasing travel-associated cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country. We compared the incidence rates of travel-associated and tourism-related cases prior to and during the campaign. The incidence of travel-associated COVID-19 cases during the tourism campaign was approximately three times greater than the control period 22 June to 21 July 2020 and approximately 1.5 times greater than the control period of 15 to 19 July. The incidence owing to tourism was approximately 8 times and 2-3 times greater than the control periods of 22 June to 21 July and 15 to 19 July, respectively. Although the second epidemic wave in Japan had begun to decline by mid-August, enhanced domestic tourism may have contributed to increasing travel-associated COVID-19 cases during 22 to 26 July, the early stage of the Go To Travel campaign.
Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); epidemiology; mobility; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); sightseeing; tourism.