Japan May Cover Half The Cost Of Your Visit

Filed Under: Travel

Update: The article referenced for this story has now been changed. Now it seems that the money will go towards domestic tourism in Japan, and it simply references “subsidizing a portion of travel expenses.”

Japan is one of the places I’m most excited to eventually return to, and it looks like the country has quite a plan to lure tourists once borders reopen.

Japan has seen a 99.9% drop in tourists

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but Japan saw a 99.9% drop in tourists for the month of April 2020. April is typically one of the most popular months of the year to visit Japan due to Cherry Blossom, but this year the country only saw only about 2,900 foreign visitors.

It’s the first time since at least 1964 (when these statistics started being compiled) that Japan has seen fewer than 10,000 monthly foreign visitors. That’s not surprising when you consider the travel restrictions that have been in place since April, as the country banned entry of nationals from over 70 countries, including China, South Korea, most of Europe, and the United States. That ban has this month been extended to a total of roughly 100 countries.

For what it’s worth, the inverse has also been true — the number of Japanese nationals traveling internationally also decreased massively in April, by 99.8%. Only 3,900 Japanese nationals left the country during the month.

Tourism to Japan is down 99.9% in April

Japan’s plan to lure back visitors

While we’ll have to wait to see the full details, The Japan Times reports on the Japanese government’s creative plan to attract visitors, which could see the country covering half of peoples’ travel expenses.

The program could launch as soon as July (if COVID-19 infections subside soon, which seems hopeful), and the plan is for this to be a roughly 12.5 billion USD program.

It goes without saying that I imagine there’s a lot more to this program, and that Japan simply won’t pay for half of everyone’s vacation with no caps. These details haven’t been decided on yet, but 12.5 billion USD is a lot of money, and this will definitely be something to watch when plans are announced.

Japan may cover half the cost of your visit… but what’s the catch?

Bottom line

Japan is such an incredible country, and I can’t wait to visit again when the time is right. Frankly I’m surprised they’re even thinking of investing so much in subsidizing peoples’ trips.

The country is such a tourist hotspot, and I think just opening borders at the right time with proper precautions will stimulate quite a bit demand.

Personally I think they should spend that money on offering free testing upon arrival, which would put them ahead of a vast majority of countries.

Nonetheless if they want to pay for half of our trips I’m sure we won’t mind. 😉

Comments
  1. I already planned a trip in early 2021, so definitely curious to see how this will unfold!

  2. Been waiting to visit again. Just cover my Covid19 test to prevent a 2 week quarantine on arrival and open borders, then we’re good to go.

  3. Maybe leftover Olympics budget.
    Maybe half means they will pay you for a capsule hotel and give you a loaded Suica card.

  4. Definitely excited and hoping to take advantage of these plans. First Sicily, now Japan.
    Sign me up!!!

  5. Lucky, if your article is simply a reference to another webpage and has one piece of information regarding the topic without any additional information, is it really newsworthy?

    Clickbait imo

  6. I am just hoping Japan opens back up. I have a trip planned in Late July and am really hoping I don’t have to cancel.

  7. @Justin, while I don’t think this site is immune to clickbait titles at times, don’t think this falls into that category. I don’t frequent the japan times and would have not known if not for this post.

  8. My one week in Japan was nowhere nearly enough. I am ready for Round 2! Hopefully in early 2021, and no corona-added BS!!

  9. I’m booked for March 2021…IAD-HND in F on ANA, hopefully it all works out. But if they will pay 1/2 cost, maybe I will change the dates. I absolutely love Japan, was there for cherry blossom season in 2018.

  10. I was forced to cancel our two week Japan trip this summer. Not a cheap trip. I’ve been planning it since last year. Really sad about cancelling it. We still would have gone if we could have entered the country. Maybe on-site rapid COVID 19 testing first…. Then subsidize trips.

  11. Perfect – one of my grandfather’s was Sicilian and my SO was born in Japan so time to revisit the homelands again!

  12. What if you pay in miles for plane and hotel ? Would they refund you in miles or use Ben’s valuation of miles ?

  13. Will ANA be flying again by then with award availability? Combine that with the Virgin Atlantic redemption on ANA and that could be one sweet deal.

    I also wonder who the .1% traveling is. Not that I expect it to go to absolute 0, but who are they? It just doesn’t seem to be fun to visit with so much closed. And most foreigners would really stand out anyway, so it seems like you’d draw a lot of attention to yourself.

  14. I support the idea but the main reason for the drop in tourism is that Japan is effectively closed to foreign tourists (travel from 100+ countries are banned).

    Maybe they should follow in Iceland’s footsteps and offer COVID-19 testing on arrival?

  15. Japan has just entered the worst recession since 2015, the effects of an increased consumption tax compounded by COVID. Add the delay of the Olympics and they’ve got a larger problem. I’m certainly interested in reading more about this promotion. Thanks for posting this initial article and hope you’ll post again if you see further information.

  16. The free testing on arrival may help the people in Japan, but what happens if you are on a plane and fly all the way to Japan and then you find out some infected dumbass was on the plane with you? Now you have to quarantine for two weeks due to your exposure? They should work out a way to have the tests before people board the plane to japan if they want to do testing like that.

  17. Will be interesting to see how this develops. We have a trip planned in November and a back-up date for March to visit Kyoto and Tolyo.

  18. How do you feel about Hong Kong. They are doing a good job containing the virus.

  19. My wife and I are booked on the Singapore Airlines Suites and 12 days at the Tokyo Ritz starting July 2nd. It would be great if Japan picked up half my cost – but we paid for everything with points. I wonder if that will qualify and how it will work. Definately will keep my eye out on this plan.

  20. My son booked a trip with his wife next year with ANA awards really cheap I believe 120K miles per person for 1st. They are staying at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto. I am trying to book the Park Hyatt Kyoto with points but will stay tuned to see what happens. I have been to Japan 3 times and absolutely love it and the people!

  21. Patiently waiting for the country to reopen again so I can go see my family again.
    Planning a trip for late 2021, so hopefully things will have calmed down by then and award space available on either JAL or ANA.

    @Jay – That would be perfect.. I’d take a recharge on my Pasmo card.

  22. It’s bee quite a while since I visited Japan and not just as a stopover. I really hope this promo works out!

    I just wish Covid tests were done on departure instead of arrival. Seems way smarter.

  23. I’m in Japan now and live here. The economy is a mess. We have only received 3 small masks. No assistance since many jobs tanked and debt is worse than the USA. There are zero tourists here now but we have not had to stop going to restaurants or salons etc. Clothing stores are now open. Many bankruptcies already due to Wuhan virus. Spending is low and tourism is all japan really has now due to the fact the fact there was so much money riding on the Olympics which never happened. Like everywhere these past months have made people everywhere angry and sad. It’s like 3/11 all over again. Where they will get this money is unknown. The Japanese press already state it all depends on what happens with the virus.

  24. In 1966 I toured Japan for 3 weeks inclusive of hotels, rail & bus travel and full board with 80 South Africans as part of a TFC tour which also included stays in Mauritius, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Taipei (6 weeks in total) for the equivalent of $1000 using a DC6 chartered from Balair . Oh those were the days my friend………

  25. I think the media in the US has failed to report the lack of testing problems in Japan. The gov’t has made the testing extremely difficult to get one (you have to have fever for 4 days to be able to get tested). 4 out of 10 people who get tested get positive results. Their number of cases may be low, but it doesn’t mean that it is well controlled.

  26. @Martin-those were the days for someone like you I guess in 1966-you probably didn’t realize how privileged you were then, lol. My family lived on $50 a week and that was my parents and my brother and sister and I, and my elderly grandma, and aunt (she had special needs as we say now). That trip was 5 months of living for us…

  27. 50% discount on hotels and public transportation pass are doable, discount on airfare from other airlines that they have no control seem pretty complicated to apply.

  28. @Happy,
    At least Japan number is more realistic than my country, Vietnam, LOL
    We have 90 millions people, never close border with China, still allow many Mainland chinese come over in the past 3 months and only report to have 400 confirmed cases.. *face palm*

  29. They just need to open the country back up, and remove all the restrictions within the country now. We are ready to travel there again, and the sooner they open back up the sooner they start making tourist dollars. I am ready to go back to Tokyo now!

  30. Japan has almost stamped out covid19 in the country, and the last thing we want is someone (Japanese and non-Japanese) who imports the virus from outside. A negative test does not prove the person is not capable to spread the virus, especially as many tests are known to give an unreasonable high probability of false results, and the person may have been infected after the test. I know many people doesn’t trust me, but lack of widespread testing is not a problem; the testing pros are there if you really need it (sample collection and lab work by amateurs are much less reliable), and if you got really sick, the doctors will definitely diagnose you using CT. The olympics have cost us dearly (tons of taxpayer money pumped into it and no revenue from sales of tickets etc), so there is no budget left.

  31. Please don’t give this deal to Chinese, their tour groups are ruining my country!! …and that was before the Wuhan virus!!

  32. Ben/Tiffany – Trumpist propaganda alert: racist garbage being posted again, above, by user going by “Matt”, who drives by every day and defecates his “Wuhan virus” trope over and over.

  33. @Dick Pointing out that COVID came from Wuhan, which is a fact, is nit racist. Nor is using that fact to illuminate the malfeasance of the Chinese Communist Party, or to demand accountability from them.

    I’m not sure why anyone is still beating this drum—it’s a losing argument.

    RE: the topic at hand, this is optimistic news, but there’s also a lot of uncertainty around it. Another Japanese newspaper at that same press conference, the Adachi Shimbun, is reporting that the subsidy will be geared toward domestic tourists, not foreign ones. Nikkei Asian Review posted its own article yesterday, which claims that the borders will re-open in a somewhat complicated fashion, with tiers based both on country of traveler origin, as well as purpose of travel (with priority given to business travel, international students and then tourists, in that order). I’d encourage both @Lucky and other curious parties to read these articles.

    It’s possible that someone will ask for clarity about this today at 3 PM JST when the Foreign Minister holds his weekly press conference, but absent that, news about the potential lifting of the entry ban has been scattered at best, and unreliable at worst. Optimistically, I’m hoping things start moving around June 1, when current policies invalidating existing visas are set to expire.

  34. Tbh every big city in North Asia and southeast Asia is superior to anything in the USA.
    No it’s not incredible. Only to American who lives in farm (except residents of Manhattan). In a city, everything is walkable even you need a hooker.
    From a man goes to Japan 20 times a year.

  35. @DannyD
    I’m also puzzling the numbers in Vietnam and Japan since both countries doesn’t test much and the number looks dramatically low considering the border policy.
    But now is that time for us to change the mind that China actually controlled it pretty well? Coz the number can be fooled, the trend doesn’t since the statistics measurement remains the same. Japan had a dramatically decrease trend after closing to Europeans and Americans and health ministry claims it doesn’t import a lot cases from China and South Korea until Europe becomes the new epicentre.
    Considering China and South Korea make up over 75% population in Japan tourism, it’s quite an achievement made by both China, South Korea, And Japan prevention measurement.

  36. @Robert Schrader
    This. Then we can play the blame game.
    We should call to hold accountability for HIV and swine flu for USA government. Also Spanish flu for Spain gov and/or USA government since the reason is still debatable. We should also hold China government accountable for avian flu, SARS and covid. Don’t forget Saudi Arabia for MERS.
    The list can go on and long.

    But you are right, you cannot expect whites without jp root to really read jp news because they only cherry pick what they want to listen. I also read the tier policy proposal and think it’s more realistic. The economy has been doomed for jp since 90s and hit twice by 00 and 08 global recession so it’s still under recovery. Abe is better in improving economy if you compare with former ministers. We will see, even I don’t havr faith in JP company culture

  37. DannyD is fake news regarding Vietnam.

    Vietnam closed their borders to China on February 1 and all borders on March 22. Prior to that, entries into the country were undergoing a 14 day military quarantine. Borders are still closed, and Vietnamese who are being repatriated are required to enter military quarantine. There has not been a new community case since April 15. Schools are open. Life is back to normal. There is no indication of doctoring the numbers or lying to the public. The government has no incentive to, as they are set to reap the benefits of showing themselves as a competent developing country.

    There is talk of opening the borders for tourism to other locations who have controlled the virus(NZ, Australia, Korea, etc.)

  38. Wow, I can’t believe some of the comments here. They are planning to cover half of your expenses, so accept it, say thank you and be gracious about it instead of saying “oh they should have done xxxx instead”.

  39. I am so excited. A huge savings. 3 week bullet train Green pass is $$. I have a 3 week trip completely booked August 24th. That would be so cool.
    Would be tempting to go twice.

  40. @Lucky, I think you missed one important part of the Japanese announcement. Here’s the sentence from the original article in Japan Times:

    “The government is seeking to boost domestic tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.”

    Note the word “domestic.” It sounds like they are trying to get Japanese to visit around the country since there’s no one coming in, and Japanese nationals aren’t going out anyway, as you said. As they bring the outbreak in the country under control, they want people to travel domestically.

    This doesn’t sound like it applies to foreign visitors; has anyone heard anything different?

  41. Um…

    “The government is seeking to boost domestic tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.

    The ¥1.35 trillion ($12.5 billion) program could start in July if novel coronavirus infections subside soon, Hiroshi Tabata, chief of the agency, told a news conference Wednesday.”

    Domestic tourism. DOMESTIC.

    QED they’re not going to be handing out stacks of yen for foreign tourists.

  42. ^Looks like the Japan Times changed its article to reflect the information the Asahi Shimbun reported. Kyodo News Agency (which was the source of JT’s article) also changed this within its article. Bummer!

  43. Having been following your website for long, I expected this article to have more meat, maybe even some insider tips, instead of just a brief info followed by “what’s the catch?” Disappointing!

  44. I don’t care if they pay for anything or not, I’ll be there as soon as I can! I only hesitate to plan my trip for next year because I just finished cancelling a month’s worth of reservations for this year for Japan. I don’t want to have to go through all that again. Japan is amazing and they don’t need to sweeten the deal for me. That being said, even if they cut my plane ticket in half that would be amazing haha

  45. I think it’s a smart strategy. Once countries start opening up, destinations are going to compete for tourists. Personally, Japan is on my top two destinations. Been there at least seven times and I haven’t tired up. Way to go, Japan!

  46. They had better pay half, especially if they’re going to keep me in a hotel for 14 days after I arrive – $200 a night.

  47. Good policy, their entire travel industry probably geared up towards a hot Olympic season, and now they’re facing low occupancy (to say the least) even compared to normal periods. This should help their travel industry without having to resort to the hamfisted bailouts the US is so reliant on.

  48. Did anyone else click the link to the Japan Times source provided? I noticed something that may be a key piece to interpretation of what Japan means by their new subsidized travel program. The source says “domestic travel”… That implies the program is for Japanese citizens traveling within Japan. Later in the article they mention a drop in foreign travelers so it seems the word domestic may mean those if it’s from other countries may not see benefit from this program. (I am so bummed if this is the case…)

    Here is the quoted excerpt:

    “The government is seeking to boost domestic tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.”

  49. I lived in Tokyo for two years and loved it. Unlike much of Asia it’s clean, safe, and you won’t get scammed.

    But it is extremely expensive.

  50. I too had to cancelook my flight and all my hotel reservations, and don’t want to have to again.
    August 24th… please please please…hoping.
    It was a blessing in disguise my first plans were for two weeks then I realized I needed three weeks. So I’m going…ha!

  51. Is there a website or somewhere I can get notifications or news about this?

  52. You misread the original article. it is only being considered for domestic tourism (for Japanese or those living in Japan):

    The government is seeking to boost domestic tourism by subsidizing a portion of travel expenses once the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.

    The ¥1.35 trillion ($12.5 billion) program could start in July if novel coronavirus infections subside soon, Hiroshi Tabata, chief of the agency, told a news conference Wednesday.

  53. ^He didn’t misread it. The Japan Times reported the wrong thing, and later update their article to reflect it.

  54. Sounds absolutely PRETTY UNBELIEVABLE when you consider the HORRIBLE things Japan is doing to residents right now. Non-citizen permanent residents. If you leave the country, you CANNOT come back. Yes that means separating mothers from their children. Say you have 2 Japanese kids but need to go to Australia to visit family, as a 15 year permanent resident of Japan. You’re banned from getting back in for the moment

  55. @Sujit I agree. Leaving the wrong information undermines his credibility, and allows people to get their hopes up about nothing

  56. So how exactly? What is the process to get in on this? None of this info was in the article.

  57. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to Japan….whether they cover half the cost or not.

  58. @robert, thanks for sharing the link. Far more clear what the plan is and the original Kyodo article only touch on small parts of the plan. For example, and paraphrasing heavily, the subsidies cover 1/2 of certain things, up to 20,000 per night (not clear if the amount is the price or subsidies) and they in the form of coupons.

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