Photo Credit: Jezael Melgoza
Japan Reinstates Its Domestic Travel Discount Program, Here's Who Qualifies
Japan’s domestic travel discount program was suspended at the end of 2022 through the New Year holiday season, but it is back! The Japan Tourism Agency reinstated the program last week on a smaller scale.
The return of the discount program gives hope to boost Japan’s hospitality industry and economy, which suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was originally launched for residents on October 11, 2022. Travel to Tokyo was excluded until October 20, 2022.
The Japanese government expects the program to last until the end of March 2023. Each prefecture was allocated a certain amount of funds by the central government. The program will end in stages as funds run out. Each prefecture will use its judgment on when to terminate the program.
In December, the discount was up to ¥11,000, about $84. It has now been scaled down to a maximum of ¥7,000 per night per person, which is about $54. This includes shopping coupons that can be redeemed at restaurants and local vendors.
During a news conference last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, “I hope (the discount program) will stimulate nationwide travel demand and have as many people as possible visit.”
Who qualifies for discounts?
Residents and foreign nationals of Japan are eligible for the travel discount program. Foreign tourists are not eligible for the discount program.
Eligible travelers will need to have either received three COVID-19 vaccine shots or submit a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of checking into a hotel. Japan’s health ministry website lists approved vaccines for those who received vaccines outside of the country.
Proof of vaccination or a negative test result is required at check-in. If you forget to bring proof, you must pay the full price and are not eligible for the discount. Other acceptable forms of proof are the government’s vaccine passport smartphone app and vaccine vouchers used during vaccination. You will also need to show your ID (driver’s license, passport, or residence card) when checking in.
If you’re traveling with a group of people and one person forgets to bring proof of vaccination or a negative test result, the entire group may be denied the discounted rate.
An exception to the rule is children 11 and under — they will not have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result as long as they have an ID and are traveling with an adult eligible for the discounted rate.
What are the discounts like?
Travelers will receive 20% off of up to ¥5,000 (about $39) per person per night for accommodations and transportation. A discount of ¥3,000 (about $24) per person per night will be applied to those who just booked a hotel.
“Reviving tourism demand is very important to revitalize the economy. We want people to travel in Japan while taking basic COVID-19 precautions,” says Japan’s tourism minister Tetsuo Saito during a news conference last week.
Additionally, ¥2,000 (about $16) worth of vouchers will be given to travelers who travel on weekdays. If you’re traveling on the weekend, you can expect ¥1,000 (about $8) in vouchers. These vouchers can be used for shopping and at restaurants. The vouchers will even be given upon check-in at the hotel or through the travel agency you book with.