What is Japan’s ‘Go To Travel’ Campaign?
PLEASE NOTE: the Go To Travel campaign has been suspended for all regions of Japan between Dec-28 2020 until Feb-07 2021. See below for further details including our FAQ for answers to common questions.
In response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on tourism, the Japanese government has announced a series of measures under the banner of a national ‘Go To’ campaign aimed at stimulating travel within Japan and boosting local economies.
The first of those campaigns, ‘Go To Travel’ started on July 22nd 2020 and provides discounts and subsidies of up to 50% on travel within Japan for Japanese citizens and foreign residents.
Discounts will be applied in the form of subsidised accommodation and ‘common coupons’, that can be used at stores, restaurants and other participating venues.
Residents of Tokyo and travel within the capital was initially not eligible to enjoy the benefits of the campaign, however as of September 18th 2020, the government has announced that the campaign now extends to Tokyo! Japanese citizens and foreign residents living in Tokyo can now book travel for October 1st 2020 onward.
It is worth noting that should there be a significant increase of COVID-19 in the capital, that Tokyo could potentially be removed from the campaign again, so it’s worth confirming cancellation policies prior to booking.
Jan-07 2021: following the government’s declaration of a ‘State of Emergency’ (SOE) in four prefectures – Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama – it has also been announced that suspension of the ‘Go To Travel’ campaign will be extended, in alignment with that announcement. As such, the current suspension will be extended from January 12th 2021 until at least February 7th 2021. All existing Go To bookings between those dates are therefore effectively now cancelled however people holding existing bookings can choose to keep them by paying the full amount – see information below – as announced on Dec-15 2020 – for further details.
Dec-28 2020: the government has announced that the Go To Travel campaign will be extended until February 28th 2021. However, there is yet to be an announcement as to when the campaign will resume. It is currently suspended – from December 28th 2020 to January 11th 20210 – with the government expected to meet early in January to make a decision about its resumption. We will update this page once the information is available.
Dec-15 2020: the government has announced some important changes to Go To Travel that will affect many bookings. These are the most pertinent points:
— in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19, the Go To Travel campaign will be suspended in all regions of Japan from December 28th 2020 until January 11th 2021. All existing Go To Travel bookings during that period are no longer eligible for the campaign subsidy and have therefore in effect been cancelled by the government. Should you have a booking within those dates – which includes a Go To Travel discount – you are entitled to a full refund or you can choose to keep your booking by paying the difference between the Go To discounted price and the original price. The amount will vary/depend on what you have booked. If you are affected, contact the supplier directly to discuss your options.
— Go To Bookings before and after those dates remain valid however, if you are living in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya or Sapporo, have booked a Go To discounted product with a travel date between now and December 27th 2020, and you wish to cancel, you are entitled to a full refund. Residents of all other areas can also cancel but will be subject to the supplier’s cancellation policy.
— at this time, it is expected that the campaign will restart on Jan-12 2021 and all booking made for travel on that date or later, remain eligible for the Go To discount. This of course may change. If so, we will update this page asap.
Nov-27 2020: the government has announced that travel to Osaka and Sapporo under the ‘Go To Travel’ campaign will be suspended for three weeks from 19:00 on Nov-27 until 24:00 on Dec-15 due to the rapid rate of increase in COVID-19 cases in those areas. Residents of both Osaka and Sapporo are asked to also refrain from traveling to other areas in that time. It is important to note, that at this time, the exclusion only applies to Sapporo and does not apply to all of Hokkaido. If you have an existing booking and are affected by this exclusion, you should contact supplier to confirm your options regarding a refund, etc. There is a possibility that other areas of Japan will be excluded from the campaign if the spread of COVID-19 continues. We will update this page if any further announcements are made.
Nov-23 2020: in response to the increase of COVID-19 in several regions of Japan, the government has announced intention to remove some areas from the national ‘Go To Travel’ campaign. The exclusion is expected to stop any new bookings to the affected areas. The affected areas have not yet been confirmed but are expected to be announced in the coming days. Once that information is available, we will update this page.
How it works
PLEASE NOTE: as explained above, the Go To Travel campaign has been suspended for all regions of Japan between Dec-28 2020 and Feb-07 2021. See above for further details and our FAQ below for answers to common questions.
From July 22nd 2020, the government will support up to half of the price of accommodation and travel expenses for 1-day trips up to a maximum of JPY10,000 per person, and 2. overnight trips up to maximum of JPY20,000 per person. Trips of up to a maximum of 7 days can be covered.
For an overnight trip, the amount you are eligible for is based on the cost of your accommodation, with a maximum claim of JPY20,000 per person. Of that support:
— 70% will be delivered through discounted accommodation
— 30% will be available through use of ‘common coupons’
The campaign discount applies to accommodation up to a maximum cost of JPY40,000 per person, per night i.e. a 50% discount = a maximum JPY20,000. Accommodation costing more than JPY40,000 per night will still be discounted, however that discount maxes-out at JPY20,000 and will not be applied to the cost above that point. Let’s break that down further:
As stated above, 70% of your total saving will be accounted for through discounted accommodation. As an example, if your full accommodation cost for 1 night would normally be JPY20,000, your payment will be subsidised (at time of booking) at a rate of 70% of half the accommodation price i.e. 50% of JPY20,000 is JPY10,000 and 70% of JPY10,000 is JPY7,000. That amount – JPY7,000 – will be subtracted from the original accommodation price of JPY20,000, meaning that you pay JPY13,000 or a saving of 35% of the usual accommodation cost.
Prior to the availability of coupons, or if you don’t use them, your saving on accommodation alone would be 35% of the original cost (remembering that the campaign has a maximum of JPY20,000 per person, per day). It’s easiest therefore to think of the ‘Go To Travel’ campaign as an assured 35% discount of your original accommodation cost, with the potential to add-up to 50% through use of coupons.
As the graphic above shows, 35% of your total travel cost is accounted for by discounted accommodation; the other 15% will be accounted for by use of ‘common coupons’ – see below for details – totaling a maximum overall saving of 50%.
It is important to note that in order to be eligible for this subsidy, hotels and guesthouses must register to be part of the ‘Go To’ campaign. For accommodation that is registered with the campaign, the advertised room price will already include the subsidy i.e. there is no further discount or refund at a later time. The hotel will need to see proof of your eligibility in the form of ID with your address.
For foreign residents, make sure to have your ‘外国登録証明’ (gaikkoku toroku shomei) or ‘gaijin card’ with you as proof of eligibility and your address.
Just remember, without use of ‘common coupons’, which will not be available until October, the maximum subsidy will be 35% of your travel cost.
Since the beginning of October, coupons of JPY1000 are available to domestic travelers, valid for use at participating stores, restaurants, transport and other venues between the dates of your intended travel.
In the equation above, your total possible is saving is JPY10,000 (half of the original cost of JPY20,000). The calculation also shows that JPY7000 has already been accounted for through discounted accommodation. The remaining JPY3000 of your total possible saving of JPY10,000 is provided in the form of coupons.
Common coupons can therefore be said to 1. account for 30% of your total possible saving – in this case, a maximum saving of JPY10,000 – or 2. cover 15% of the original travel cost – in this case, the original cost would have been JPY20,000.
To be eligible, participating stores and restaurants will need to register with the campaign and will have some form of identification or logo on display, allowing travellers to know where they can use the coupons.
How Will I Receive & Use My Coupons?
The issuance of coupons started from October. Following on from the calculation above, you would be eligible for JPY3000 worth of coupons. You will be issued as 3 × JPY1000 coupons. Coupons can be issued in both physical or digital form. Which one you receive depends on the hotel/travel agent you book:
At time of booking, the hotel calculates your total total value of coupons – in this case, 3 × JPY1000 = JPY3000. Upon check-in at your hotel, you will be asked to show identification with your name and address (for groups claiming discounts under the ‘Go To Campaign’, all members of the group will need to prove their eligibility).
Having proven your eligibility, you will be given your coupons at your hotel to be spent at any participating venue within the prefecture. The coupons will have the prefecture they can be used in and dates of validity marked on them.
For guest that booked a trip through a travel agent. Depending on the travel agent you will receive the coupons by post or digitally. More information about digital coupons can be found below.
When booking through a travel agent, it is likely you will be provided with a digital rather than physical coupon. At time of booking, you will receive an email with a reservation number which will be needed to use the coupons.
On the day you wish to use your coupon, you will need to log into a website – yet to be made public – and input your reservation number and the name of the travel agent you booked with. You will then see the total amount you have available for use.
Much like physical coupons, digital coupons will only be available for use in increments of JPY1000. Participating venues will have a QR Code for you to scan, which will deduct the coupons from your account.
Just remember, both physical and digital coupons will only be valid for use in the designated prefecture and on the designated dates of travel.
If you do not use them, they cannot be refunded or exchanged for money at a later time.
It is also worth noting that change will not be given i.e. if you want to make payment for JPY1700 worth of goods or services, you can choose to use JPY2000 however will not receive any change. This applies to both physical and digital coupons. You could also choose to only use one voucher of JPY1000 and pay the JPY700 in cash – as discussed in the FAQs below.
Making Use of the Campaign
Discounts and support offered through ‘Go To Travel’ is the first component of what is expected to be a large-scale campaign that includes ‘Go To Eat’ targeting restaurants and cafes, ‘Go To Event’ subsidising ticketing for registered events, and ‘Go To Shotengai’ promoting local shopping.
Having commenced on July 22nd 2020, the ‘Go To Travel’ campaign is expected to run until spring 2021, with coupons available from October and other components (as listed above) to be announced.
For the time being, discounted accommodation is the only benefit available. To take advantage of the subsidised prices, you will need to book directly with the participating accommodation or travel agent, and this is where we come in…
Great Deals with Japan Rail including Discounted Shinkansen Tickets
With great deals on offer through Go To Travel, Japan Rail has also come to the party and are offering big discounts on many shinkansen services and a new 3-day pass, only available to foreign passport-holders.
Our ‘Discount Shinkansen Tickets: How to Buy Online’ page has a step-by-step guide of how to by discounted shinkansen tickets – up to savings of 50% – online! While our ‘JR East Welcome Pass 2020’ page has everything you need to know about the pass including how and where to get one.
All this means that you can use the shinkansen much cheaper right now – the perfect time to combine your discounted fare or 3-day pass with a travel package with us in Nagano!
Booking Your Travel Package with Snow Monkey Resorts
As a registered travel agent, we are happy to be participating in the ‘Go To’ campaign. Based in Nagano, we are proud of our home region and what everyone to enjoy the beauty, open spaces and fantastic attractions of Central Japan.
We offer a range of packages including accommodation and transport, with the option of a private guide, restaurants, ticketing and other add-ons. We do this so you can get the best possible deal while focusing on the most important thing – enjoying your getaway!
For further details of what we offer, please see our ‘Deals in Nagano & Central Japan’ page.
Does the campaign mean I will only pay 50% of my total travel expenses?
Not necessarily. The campaign potentially covers up to half your travel cost but is capped at JPY10,000 per person for day-trips and JPY20,000 per person for overnight trips. As explained above, the support will be broken into 70% accommodation discounts and 30% coupons. Prior to the availability of coupons, or if you do not choose to use them, your saving on accommodation alone would be a maximum of 35% – refer to the information above for details. It’s easiest to think of the ‘Go To Travel’ campaign as an assured 35% discount of your original accommodation cost, with the potential to add-up to 50% through use of coupons.
Who is eligible?
At this time, Japanese citizens and foreign residents in Japan can take advantage of the campaign.
Is Tokyo excluded from the campaign?
Due to the high rate of COVID-19 infections, both residents of Tokyo and accommodation, restaurants, shops and other related businesses were not included in the ‘Go To’ campaign. However, as of September 18th 2020 government has confirmed that travel in and residents of the capital are now eligible for Go To Travel and can go ahead and book for travel for October 1st 2020 onward. Inclusion of Tokyo is dependent on there being no significant increase of COVID-19, so let’s hope for the best but if you are residing in the capital, best to check the cancellation policy of your chosen hotel, travel agent, etc. prior to payment.
How will anyone know if I am eligible?
Participating venues such as hotels and guesthouses will be required to confirm your eligibility by checking appropriate identification. For foreign residents, you will be required to show your ‘外国登録証明’ (gaikkoku toroku shomei) or ‘gaijin card’. For people travelling as groups, every member claiming discounts under the campaign will be required to provide proof of eligibility.
Do I have to personally register for the campaign?
No. Only participating accommodation, businesses and travel agents needs to register. If you are a Japanese citizen or foreign resident living outside of Tokyo, you can take advantage of the campaign simply by choosing to use accommodation and businesses participating in the campaign.
Are travelers who live outside Tokyo, but departing from Tokyo i.e. Haneda Airport or Tokyo Station, eligible?
As of October 1st 2020, such travel will be included.
What if I live outside of Tokyo but need to go through Tokyo to reach my destination i.e. heading to Central Japan from Sendai and coming through Tokyo?
This is acceptable. Transferring through Tokyo enroute to another destination is acceptable.
Will the campaign be extended to international travelers/non-residents?
While possible, the government has not expressed an intention to extend the campaign to overseas visitors in future. Should this change, we will update this page.
Are children and infants covered?
Yes. Children and infants are considered to be one person and therefore eligible to claim support i.e. if parents are traveling with two children this would count as 4 people, each entitled to claim.
Do discounted prices include tax and other charges, such as onsen tax?
The advertised price of discounted accommodation will include tax. Additional charges such as onsen tax should also be included but that is up to the individual guesthouse. Please check directly with your accommodation re additional charges.
In addition to the initial accommodation price, will any further charges upon check-out be subsidized?
No. The subsidy only applies to the initial accommodation charge. Any later or additional fees must be paid directly to the accommodation.
Does the campaign support international flights?
No. The campaign is intended to stimulate local economies and tourism and only applies to domestic travel.
When/how will I receive coupons for my travel?
Physical coupons will be handed to guests upon check-in or will be send to your provide address prior to your travel. For guests booking through travel agents, it is likely you will be issued with digital coupons.
Please do note that coupons will only be distributed to trips which the original travel price is equal or more than JPY3334.
Coupons will be issued in the amount of JPY1000. Can I use coupons to purchase things greater than the coupon value i.e. use three coupons totaling JPY3000 to pay for a product or service costing JPY4500?
Yes. Coupons can be used like most other vouchers to cover the full price or part of the cost. If the total cost exceeds the value of your vouchers, you can make-up the difference by paying the business directly.
If I don’t use a coupon/s during my travel, can I have them paid-out in cash or refunded?
No. Unused coupons cannot be exchanged for cash and are not eligible for refunds.
Are rental cars covered by this campaign?
The campaign does not cover rental cars unless they are included in a package such as a combination of accommodation and a rental car.
Before the campaign was launched on July 22nd, I booked an upcoming trip. Can I still get support?
Yes. You are still eligible as long as 1. the product i.e. your accommodation, is covered by the campaign, and 2. the travel agency or accommodation that sold the product is participating in the campaign.
If that is the case, you should be eligible for a partial refund. For further information, please contact the travel agency or accommodation through which you purchased the product to request a refund.
Many prefectures and local governments are running travel campaigns and promotions of their own. Can I combine these with support available through the ‘Go To’ campaign?
It depends on the conditions of the local campaign. Please check with the specific promotion to check whether they can be combined.
How will the amount of support be calculated in the case of trips including different accommodation?
It depends. If the accommodation is booked separately i.e. each hotel is booked directly, the support will be capped at JPY20,000 per person, per day. If however you have booked accommodation through a travel agent, the support will be calculated on the total booking price over multiple days.
What happens if I cancel my booking?
When you book through ‘Go To Travel’, your booking will be subject to the cancellation policy of the supplier so it’s important to check the specific details including the time at which cancellation charges start from. Should you be subject to a cancellation fee, it is important to note that the cancellation fee will be calculated as a percentage of the original/pre-discounted booking price, not the Go To Travel price. This policy has been set by the government.
I have a Go To booking between Dec-28 and Jan-11, is it still valid?
Unfortunately, it is no longer valid and the supplier cannot honour the deal and discounted price. As a result of the government’s suspension of Go To Travel, all bookings between those dates – that include a discount under the Go To Travel campaign – are no longer eligible for the government subsidy. This applies to all regions of Japan and effectively cancels all bookings under the Go To Travel campaign. If you have a booking between those dates, you are entitled to a full refund or you can choose to keep your booking, by paying the difference between the Go To discounted price and the original price. The amount will vary/depend on what you have booked. If you are affected, contact the supplier directly to discuss your options.
I have a Go To booking before or after those dates?
At this time, your booking remains valid. Residents of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo have the option of cancelling bookings with travel dates up to Dec-27 and receive a full refund. Persons living in all other areas can also cancel but are subject to the cancellation policy/fee of the supplier. Should you wish to cancel a booking with a travel date of Jan-12 or later, contact the supplier to check their cancellation policy.