What is Japan’s ‘Go To Travel’ Campaign?
LAST UPDATED: SEPT 18TH 2020
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.
How it works
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.
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.
From October onward coupons of JPY1000 will be made 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 has been announced and will start from October and onwards. Following on from the calculation above, you would be eligible for JPY3000 worth of coupons. You will be issued as 3 × JPY1000 coupons. Both physical and digital coupons will be made available for use. 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.
The exact details of this are yet to be announced. Once information is available, we will update this page.
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…
Booking Your Trip 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!
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.