Japan travel coupons to be released to boost tourism

The Japanese government will issue coupons for use at restaurants, tourist facilities and other locations starting next month, as part of its Go To Travel campaign to support the tourism industry. Japan travel coupons

Travellers departing on or after October 1 will be able to receive up to 15 per cent of their travel expenses as coupons. The Go To Travel campaign started in July with discounts of up to 35 per cent on travel expenses, but the release of the coupons was delayed by more than two months.

This will complete the originally planned system, in which half of a person’s travel expenses are covered through the combination of the travel expense subsidy and the coupons.

Coupons will be distributed for up to 15 per cent of a person’s travel expenses per day, or 6000 yen (NZ$85), and can only be used during the period of the trip. Places where they can be used, including restaurants, tourist facilities and local transportation facilities, will be indicated by stickers or posters.

Unlike travel expense discounts, which cover accommodation and transportation costs, the coupons can be used at a wide range of places at travel destinations. They can also be used in prefectures that neighbour those where travellers are staying. For example, if a traveller stays in Aomori Prefecture, their coupons also can be used in Iwate and Akita prefectures, and in Hokkaido.

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There are two types of coupons, paper and electronic. They come in units of ¥1000, and no change is given. Travellers can get coupons at places including a travel agency’s shop, or at an accommodation facility they have booked online.

The tourism industry has been hit hard by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba told a news conference on Tuesday that the purpose of the coupons is “to boost consumption related to the tourism industry” in various regions.

“I hope the number of visitors during the autumn tourist season will increase [due to the coupons],” said a staffer at a souvenir shop in Nara, where sales dropped more than 90 per cent from a year earlier after the virus spread.

The government’s budget for the Go To Travel campaign amounts to 1.3 trillion yen. The government had originally planned to start offering discounts and coupons in early August, but it moved up part of the schedule, offering discounts of up to 35 per cent on travel expenses from July 22, due to what it said was strong demand from the tourism industry.

The launch of the coupons was postponed because time was needed to print hundreds of millions of them, and to inform stores that will accept coupons.

Between July 27 and Sept. 3, about 7.81 million people used the travel expenses discount system. This figure is much lower than the total number of domestic travellers who took overnight trips in August last year, which was 53.74 million, mainly because trips to and from Tokyo are excluded from the campaign. (via Washington Post) Japan travel coupons


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