'go To Eat' Dining - Out Campaign Kicks Off

'Go To Eat' dining-out campaign kicks off

Japan's "Go To Eat" program encouraging people to dine out kicked off on Thursday. The campaign focuses on supporting restaurants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the program, diners can earn points when they make reservations at restaurants through booking websites.

Fifteen booking websites, including Gurunavi and Tabelog, have been designated for the program.

People who eat at a restaurants where they have made a reservation through the program will be awarded points worth about five dollars for lunch and 10 dollars for dinner.

The points can then be redeemed for dining through future reservations.

Reservations can be made without restrictions until the end of January 2021.

The eateries can register with the booking sites free of charge. But NHK learned that 12 of 20 restaurants in a tourist spot in Tokyo's Asakusa area were not taking part in the campaign. They cited high charges for the service and other obstacles.

Critics say that the campaign's effects are limited as restaurants and other businesses that are struggling due to the effects of the coronavirus are reluctant to take part in the program.

One restaurant owner said he decided not to take part, saying that his regular customers are older. He also noted the high cost to his business.

Another owner sees the campaign as a good opportunity to start using such websites, hoping customers will start coming back gradually.