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Japans businesses offering special perks to reward vaccinations

Hotels and department stores are among the many businesses offering discounts and other special perks for customers who get vaccinated against covid-19.

With their revenue slumping amid the pandemic, businesses hope that offering special services to vaccinated customers will boost their sales. There are also hopes that increased inoculations will stimulate overall consumption.

The Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, has seen its occupancy rate fall to 30% of its normal level, partly due to a plunge in the number of foreign guests visiting Japan. Guests aged 65 or older who will be inoculated at the mass vaccination center in central Tokyo are currently being offered discounted rooms starting at 6,000 yen ($54.50 U.S.) per person, including breakfast.

An equivalent stay usually costs 9,100 yen per person. The hotel also provides a leaflet on how to get to the vaccination site.

Mitsui Fudosan Co. operates 24 hotels, including the Mitsui Garden Hotel. It has also launched new services for guests to be inoculated at the mass vaccination site, allowing them to stay for up to 30 hours over a period from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. the following day.

"We've worked out a service plan in which people check in early in the morning and leave their luggage at the hotel before going to the vaccination site. Then they relax at the hotel after their inoculation," a public relations official for the hotel said.

The new service has proved popular, so the hotel will consider offering a similar deal to people aged 64 or younger who are to get a shot at the mass vaccination site.

Some tourism organizations are planning to launch regionwide discounts for fully inoculated visitors. For example, the tourist association for Fuji-Kawaguchiko Town in Yamanashi Prefecture will launch services including a 10% discount on accommodations at its member hotels and inns from June 15.

The Go To Travel campaign, a government measure to support tourism, has been suspended since late last year amid the spread of infections. Therefore, the tourist association is seeking to "woo visitors with similar measures," an association official said.

About 30 hotels and other lodging facilities affiliated with the association have decided to take part.

Department stores have also seen their performance deteriorate due to reduced operating hours and people refraining from going out, so they too have introduced discount services.

A branch of the Saikaya department store in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, is offering discounts to shoppers who present a covid-19 vaccination certificate. The department store also provides vacant floor space to the Yokosuka municipal government for use as a vaccination site, and it hopes people will do some shopping after getting a shot.

Restaurant chain operator Watami Co. began offering one free drink, such as draft beer, to people who are fully vaccinated. This service is being offered in regions other than those where the service of alcoholic drinks is subject to pandemic-related restrictions.

In the United States, private consumption has recovered rapidly since around the time the vaccination rates of elderly people topped 80%. Therefore, expectations are high that more vaccinations in Japan will lead to greater consumption.

"From around July, when the vaccination of elderly people will have gotten well along, Japan too can expect an increase in consumption, including at restaurants," said Junichi Makino, a chief economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, Inc.

Published : June 15, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Japan News