Travel agencies eye discounts for those vaccinated for COVID-19

By SHO HATSUMI/ Staff Writer
July 20, 2021 at 08:00 JST
A guest room at the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Marunouchi of Nippon Hotel Co. covered under a special program for vaccinated customers (Provided by Nippon Hotel Co.)

Travel agencies in Japan are offering special packages catering to consumers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.The struggling tourism industry sees a silver lining in the vaccination program against the novel coronavirus as it expects the program to inspire more people not only to get jabs but also to go on trips.The Japan Travel and Tourism Association in June released an emergency proposal that urged acceleration of vaccinations and the adoption of COVID-19 “passports” to confirm vaccinations.The statement argued that “promoting trips taking advantage of inoculation certificates and other measures will lead to expanded exchanges between people.”Leading tourist agent Club Tourism International Inc. is considering a new tour intended specially for inoculated individuals that aims to allow participants to feel safe while traveling, which it would accept reservations for by the end of August at the earliest.As the majority of people who have been vaccinated to date are elderly, the ratio of senior citizens against the total joining tours is about 10 percent more than usual, leading travel firms to prepare packages to match the trend.A Club Tourism representative said the company hopes the special tours “will stimulate consumers’ desire for traveling.” Nippon Hotel Co., an East Japan Railway Co. group company, is staging a campaign targeting people who have been inoculated against COVID-19.Tourists who stay and dine in 34 accommodation facilities from four Nippon Hotel brands through the end of September can receive hotel discount tickets valued from 500 yen ($4.50) to 3,000 yen.To apply for the campaign, customers must show their vaccination certificates.“We expect our endeavor will encourage more people to get vaccinated,” said a Nippon Hotel representative. “We also anticipate the campaign will offer new value so tourists will choose our hotels over other lodging facilities.”Prince Hotels Inc., a Seibu Holdings Inc. affiliate, released a new package on July 2 in which vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can stay together after taking a free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.The company sends PCR test kits to the homes of customers who book hotels covered under the program, who get their test results before their stays.“We'd like people, including those who couldn't see each other for an entire year, to make family and other trips together,” a Prince Hotels representative said. For those who are planning to travel overseas, local governments will start accepting applications from July 26 for COVID-19 "vaccine passports" that certify holders have been inoculated against the virus. 
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source from The Asahi Shimbun