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Japan gears up for bustling holiday despite COVID uptick

Local governments warn of surge in infections during $4.3bn spending spree

Visitors take photos of Mt. Fuji from Arakurayama Sengen Park in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, on April 12. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Japan is gearing up for its busiest holiday season since the COVID-19 pandemic began as the government eases antivirus measures, though experts say an uptick in infections is likely to keep consumer spending below pre-pandemic levels.

Bookings for hotels, airlines and bullet train operators during Golden Week, which starts on April 29 and runs through early May, have rebounded strongly from the same period last year. Some 16 million people are expected to travel domestically, a 68% increase from last year, according to travel agency JTB. Spending during the period is expected to rise 80% to 552 billion yen ($4.3 billion).

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