A poster of the Japanese government’s Go To Travel grant program can be seen in Tokyo on December 19, 2020 (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – Japan’s travel agency HIS Co. said on Friday that its subsidiaries fraudulently received government subsidies for promoting tourism last year by over-reporting the number of hotel rooms sold.

HIS said its internal investigative panel found that the two units, Japan Holiday Travel Co. and Miki Tourist Co., together received 683 million yen ($ 6 million) in grants as part of the campaign. “Go To Travel” for hotel stays that never took place.

The investigative panel concluded that Miki Tourist and Tokyo-based hotel operator JHAT Co. were in collusion, while Japan Holiday Travel did not play an active role in fraudulent room reservations.

ITS CEO Hideo Sawada told a press conference that his company would return the money to the government and sack the chairman of Miki Tourist, adding that his company had no plans to file a criminal complaint.

The tourism boost campaign, which covered 50% of travel costs up to 20,000 yen per person per night, began in July 2020 to support the tourism industry amid the downturn caused by the pandemic, but has was suspended in December of the same year due to the rapid spread of infections.

JHAT said in a statement that the investigative panel completely ignored the hotel operator’s point of view and was “unhappy” with the investigation’s findings.


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