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Tweet of the Week #83: No, Japan Will Not Pay For Foreign Tourists to Visit

Sorry to rain on your parade, but Japan's Go to Travel campaign is only for domestic tourists.

By 4 min read

When the story of Japan’s Go to Travel subsidy initiative to revive tourism broke, would-be travelers worldwide jumped for joy at the idea of having their next trip to the Land of the Rising Sun paid for by the government.

Come on now, you should know that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

What is Go to Travel?

God knows Japan is counting on travelers to salvage its severely hit tourism industry. There were 99.9% fewer travelers in April 2020 than in 2019. As the country is slowly reverting back to normalcy, tourism authorities are making initial steps to restart the industry—starting with a subsidy program named Go to Travel. 

The program will only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses. Meaning only Japan residents would benefit from the program.

If approved by the government, the initiative would provide up to ¥20,000 vouchers and 20% discounts to help support local hotels, ryokans, and restaurants, provided travelers book their trips directly with the venue or through Japanese travel agencies.

Due to inaccurate reporting by some western media outlets, some people had the idea that the Go to Travel campaign would cover half their travel costs including airfare. A dream come true for money-savvy tourists!

Alas, the Japan Tourism Agency quickly dispelled the rumors on Twitter. The program, still in the planning stage, will only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses. Meaning only Japan residents would benefit from the program.


Fake news

As more and more websites and blogs enthusiastically shared news of the subsidy plan, Japanese people expressed their surprise at what now looks like “fake news” on Twitter. They mostly blamed the confusion on the English name of the campaign.


Go to Travel キャンペーンと横文字よこもじ使つかっているのでややこしいですが、日本にほん在住者ざいじゅうしゃけに国内旅費こくないりょひ半分はんぶんまで補助して外国人がいこくじんないため疲弊ひへいした観光地かんこうち応援おうえんするという施策しさく



“This is fake news spreading among foreign media.

It’s confusing because they’ve named it ‘Go to Travel’ and write it using western characters. But the measure is trying to support tourist spots that are suffering because foreign travelers aren’t coming by covering up to half of Japan residents’ domestic travel expenses.

The source is unknown, but it seems that overseas media are copying fake news from Japan.”



「STAY HOME」とか「Go To Travel」とか無駄むだ英語えいごのタイトル付けると、海外向かいがいむけキャンペーンだと誤解するんじゃないだろうかという。


“I feel like the name is the issue here… If the name was ‘COVID-19 reconstruction support,’ foreigners would probably not get confused about the meaning.

I wonder if trivial English names such as ‘STAY HOME’ and ‘Go to Travel’ created the misunderstanding that the campaign is directed at travelers from overseas.”

We’d guess that “Go to Travel” is just a new chapter in a long line of miscommunication from the Japanese government.

While it’s not totally safe just yet to explore all the wonders Japan has to offer, we can still plan a future trip to uplift our spirits until we can finally board a plane again. For those outside Japan, just be prepared to pay full price.

Learn the Japanese expression 向け

向け is the short-form of the word 向ける which means “to direct (your attention towards…)” or “to point (at)” and is used as a suffix with nouns to express that something is intended for, suitable for, or oriented towards someone or something.

日本在住者向けに = for residents of Japan

海外向けキャンペーン = a campaign oriented towards foreigners

Be sure not to confused 向け with 向き, another suffix that works with nouns. The word 向き comes from the verb 向く, which means “to face” (e.g., a direction). While both convey the idea of something “being suitable for,” 向け carries the notion of objective or intent.

The Go to Travel campaign is intended for domestic travelers. On the other hand, 向き doesn’t imply a specific intention but rather express suitability, such as in “a book suitable for children” or 子供こども向きのほん in Japanese.


Japanese Romaji English
海外かいがいメディア kaigai medeia foreign media
ひろまる hiromaru go around, circulate
フェイクニュース fueiku nyuusu Fake news
キャンペーン kyanpeen campaign
横文字よこもじ yokomoji Western characters
使つか tsukau use
ややこしい yayakoshii complicated, confusing
日本にほん在住者ざいじゅうしゃ nihon saijyuusha muke towards Japan residents
国内旅費こくないりょひ kokunai ryohi domestic travel expenses
半分はんぶんまで hanbun made until half
観光地かんこうち kankouchi tourist spot
応援おうえんする ouen suru support
出所不明しゅっしょふめい shussho fumei unknown source
フェイク報道ほうどう fueiku houdou fake news
問題もんだい mondai problem, issue
かんじがする kanji ga suru feel
ふっこうわり fukkou wari reconstruction help
意味いみ imi meaning
誤解ごかいする gokai suru misunderstand
可能性かのうせい kanousei possibility
無駄むだ muda ni futile, waste
だろうかという darou ka toiu I wonder
子供こども向き kodomo muki suitable for kids


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