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No, Japan Won’t Pay Half Of Foreign Tourists’ Expenses To Visit

Japan Won't Pay
Photo by David Edelstein on Unsplash

No, Japan Won’t Pay Half Of Foreign Tourists’ Expenses To Visit

Last week, reports surfaced that a plan was under consideration from the Japanese government to provide subsidies to international travelers.  The reports stemmed from the Japan Times, which reported consideration for a subsidy to encourage foreign visitors to return to Japan.  In April, only 2,900 people visited Japan — a staggering 99% drop from April 2019.  For that reason, it didn’t seem too crazy of an idea when it was reported.  However, on Wednesday the Official Japan Tourism Agency categorically denied foreign travelers’ inclusion in the program.

Reports from media organizations all around the world carried the story, creating excitement among many.  The obvious purpose behind such a policy is the actively encourage tourism.  Other countries have discussed the prospect of spurring tourism by covering some expenses.  So the reports didn’t seem completely crazy or unlikely.  But it now appears the program is for Japanese citizens to travel domestically.  That’s similar to the Polish government’s proposal to provide money to citizens for domestic tourism.

International Travelers Not Included

The announcement came on Wednesday when the tourism organization denied the rumors in a series of tweets.  In a statement, tourism officials said:

The ‘Go to Travel Campaign’ under consideration by the Japanese government is to stimulate domestic travel demand within Japan after the Covid-19 pandemic and only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses.

The Japan National Tourism Organization confirmed the news in a message from a spokesperson:

With the state of emergency lifted and new cases currently on the decline, Japan will be balancing safety and hygiene with getting people within Japan back to enjoying what their beautiful country has to offer.

Currently, this means initiatives such as this will be aimed at people living in Japan only, and not overseas visitors. Support will be offered to cover a proportion of domestic travel expenses

With that, the hopes of subsidized trips to Japan vanished quickly.  Obviously, it’s still difficult to know when international travel will return to normal for Americans.  The State Department still warns Americans that they should not travel abroad.

But Japan is likely to serve as a big destination next year.  That’s because the country is hosting the 2021 olympics (assuming they go as planned).  So they are likely to have a substantial growth in tourists that will at least offer some help in getting back to pre-coronavirus tourism levels.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately, it seems if you aren’t from Japan you’ll have to pay your own way to visit the country.  After reports last week said they’d cover half of people’s expenses, we now know that’s not true. Instead, the government is considering a domestic travel program to spur its citizens to move around the country again.  Sorry for those who thought they’d get to go to Asia and pay a little less for it!



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