Over-payments of ¥217 mil. seen in Go To Travel refunds

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Board of Audit

The government may have overpaid travel agencies and other related entities about ¥217 million because of refund errors following the suspension of the Go To Travel campaign, an investigation by the Board of Audit has revealed.

The board asked the Japan Tourism Agency Wednesday to collect the overpaid funds so that the money can be returned to state coffers.

The Go To Travel discount campaign was aimed at helping revitalize the coronavirus pandemic-hit tourism sector, but the government suspended the campaign at the end of 2020 due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The agency asked travel agencies and other related entities not to charge cancellation fees to customers when the campaign was suspended. Under certain conditions, the agency also compensated travel agencies 35%-50% of the fees the customers would have paid. A secretariat was assigned to administer compensation payments.

The Board of Audit examined about 4.05 million compensation payments that had been completed by the end of fiscal 2021, amounting to about ¥132 billion.

The inspection uncovered about 10,000 cases in which compensation was paid twice for the same booking or the conditions did not meet the compensation requirements.

No fraudulent compensation claims have been confirmed, according to the board, which noted that factors such as inadequate checks by the secretariat contributed to the payment errors.

A Japan Tourism Agency official said, “We’ll reexamine the situation regarding the payments and work on returning the funds.”