Travel agency H.I.S. reveals fraudulent receipt of travel subsidies

© Kyodo News

Japanese travel agency H.I.S. Co. said Friday its subsidiaries fraudulently received the government's tourism promotion subsidies last year by overreporting the number of hotel room stays they sold.

H.I.S. said its internal probe panel found that the two units, Japan Holiday Travel Co. and Miki Tourist Co., received a combined 683 million yen ($6 million) worth of subsidies under the "Go To Travel" campaign for hotel stays that never took place.

The probe panel concluded that Miki Tourist and a Tokyo-based hotel operator JHAT Co. colluded, while Japan Holiday Travel did not play an active role in the fraudulent room bookings.

H.I.S. CEO Hideo Sawada said in a news conference his company will pay back the money to the government and dismiss Miki Tourist's president, adding his company has no plan to file a criminal complaint.

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

JHAT said in a statement the investigation panel completely ignored the hotel operator's views and is "displeased" with the probe findings.