Last week, news reports from Japan set the internet ablaze: The Japanese government was considering covering 50% of flight and travel costs for visitors.
It was an ingenious way to get people back to the country after coronavirus caused tourism to plummet. Unfortunately, it was also too good to be true.
The Japanese Tourism Agency confirmed this morning in a series of tweets that its Go to Travel campaign would only apply to domestic travel – not foreign visitors.
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.（２／２）
— 観光庁（Japan Tourism Agency） (@Kanko_Jpn) May 27, 2020
The confusion stems from The Japan Times, Japan's largest English newspaper. The news outlet originally reported that “the government is planning to lure back foreign visitors by covering half of their travel expenses” with a $12.5 billion program, citing comments from the tourism agency's chief last week.
That story has since been updated to indicate that the government's program would only cover “a portion of domestic travel expenses.”
Of course this was too good to be true, but we can't blame travelers for getting their hopes up. Only domestic travelers in Japan may benefit from this program.