• Jiji, Kyodo


The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that it will conduct a trial in the use of COVID-19 vaccine certificates and negative test results with 38 group tours.

The trial is aimed at checking the burden of related administrative work on tour operators, as well as how effective the use of the measures are in preventing coronavirus infections.

Through the initiative, the government aims to create an environment for smooth travel as it hopes to achieve a balance between coronavirus measures and a return to daily life.

The trial will be held between Friday and Nov. 14 and will be joined by Hankyu Travel International Co. and 10 other companies.

The 38 group tours will include those from the Tokyo metropolitan area and those involving day trips.

At the start of the tours, tour operators will check participants' vaccine certificates and negative test results, based on their prior consent.

Around two weeks after the trips, the participants will be individually asked whether they have contracted the coronavirus.

The tourism agency will ask tour operators and participants to fill out questionnaires, planning to use the results of the survey for drawing up related guidelines.

A similar trial will also be conducted for independent travel.

Meanwhile, app providers said Wednesday that they will collaborate to offer special benefits to customers who utilize a new smartphone app showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination when using restaurants and hotels.

Some 10 companies have joined the initiative, which aims to attract customers by promoting their measures to prevent coronavirus infections while encouraging people to get vaccinated.

The smartphone app will display proof of vaccination with the user's face on the screen once they register the necessary information after being fully inoculated against COVID-19, according to app providers Medical Check Propulsion Mechanism and Tokyo-based medical venture ICheck Co.

The app called "Wakupasu" can be downloaded to smartphones free of charge and is expected to be launched following approval by Apple Inc. and others, they said.

Among companies joining the program are travel agency H.I.S. Co., the APA Group, which runs a hotel chain, sushi restaurant chain Kappa Create Co. and J-League soccer team Kashima Antlers.

The companies are currently preparing special benefits for customers, with Kappa Create planning to offer a 10% discount on food and drink charges.

Fumiaki Koizumi, president of Kashima, said in an online presentation, "I felt a little cheerful that the number of new infections has decreased, but I also have a sense of crisis" about managing businesses, expressing the team's willingness to utilize the vaccination app. Koizumi is also chairman of flea market app operator Mercari Inc.

Those who have not been vaccinated or who do not present the app will be able to receive the same services as before.

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