The Japanese Government is considering to once again return the travel discount campaign they have been running in previous years, offering vouchers to use at domestic hotels and restaurants.
The promotion was designed to boost the tourism sector in Japan which has pretty much been exclusively based on domestic clientele ever since Japan developed into a hermit kingdom 2.5 years ago.
Japan is still one of the most popular countries visitors wish to visit worldwide but with its borders closed to individual tourism since March 2020 the countries tourism sector has been hit hard.
Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan has made it almost impossible for foreigners to enter the country unless they are staying in the country as foreign residents, workers, students or family visas. Last year Japan also started to allow business travelers to apply for a visa at Japanese Embassies and Consulates as the visa waiver program had also been discontinued.
Then this year, the government rolled out a plan to permit North Korea-style guided Tours to come to Japan, which was a massive failure as only a few thousand arrived, most from Thailand.
Now the Japan Times reports that the government is trying to stimulate tourism again by returning the discount voucher campaign for Fall/Winter travel.
The government is considering launching a nationwide travel discount program as early as this autumn, after a delay due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
Initially, the government planned to start the program, intended to support the hotel and transportation industries hit hard by the pandemic, in July.
The program would expand the existing one offering discounts and coupons for travel within local regions.
Under the new program, costs for public transportation and accommodation will be reduced by up to ¥8,000 per night per person. Costs will be cut by up to ¥5,000 for accommodation only.
In addition, people will get coupons worth ¥3,000 on weekdays and ¥1,000 on weekends for use at restaurants.
The new program may not be available in some areas of the country depending on the COVID-19 situation, as decisions to introduce it will be left entirely up to prefectural governments.
In addition to the travel discount program, the central government is considering removing its daily limit on the number of incoming travelers, reopening borders to individual foreign travelers and enabling visa-free travel next month.
Visa waivers will be available for people from about 70 nations and regions who were eligible for visa-free short stays in Japan before the pandemic, a government official said.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce the easing of border control measures during a trip to New York next week in order to tout the move to the international community.
Kishida told a meeting of Asian business leaders in Tokyo on Thursday that Japan will soon relax its border control measures even further. “Free and lively people-to-people exchanges are the foundations of the economy and society,” he said. …
It’s not mentioned if this discount would also be available to foreigners traveling in Japan or only locals under some form of taxpayer relief scheme.
Here is how their Go To Travel campaign in the summer of 2020 worked:
Japan’s Confusing “Go To Travel” Campaign
I certainly hope that this time around, it’d be structured a bit better, and people could navigate it more easily as their first attempt was really a mess, and way too much effort was involved in redeeming the discounts.
As far as a return of the visa waiver program and an end to the international arrivals cap is concerned, I’m sure I can speak for most when I say that we’re all excited about what will be announced next week.
I decided to apply for a JP business visa here in Germany just in case they will pull the plug again and eventually come up with something that isn’t exactly up to standards for painless travel. One of my business partners in Japan was able to get me an invitation certificate through the ERFS database, and there is no visa fee for German citizens, so stopping by the consulate in Duesseldorf was an easy thing to do. I should have my passport back next week and then head back to Asia after a one-month hiatus.
The Japanese government is currently considering renewing a domestic travel discount campaign that would give eligible travelers discounts on public transportation and accommodation by up to ¥8,000 per night per person plus additional ¥4,000 discounts for restaurants.
No details have been released yet, and we’ll follow any announcements the government is going to make in the coming weeks regarding the reopening of Japan to foreign individual travelers as well as the domestic travel campaign. Hopefully, something substantial and useful will be announced soon.