The Coronavirus pandemic has left industries all over the world gasping in its wake– especially the tourism industry. In Japan, April of 2020 saw the lowest number of international tourists since 1964. While things are reopening, Japan’s vulnerable status as a highly desirable tourist destination leaves the entire country at risk.
As the government sought to fix this problem by banning international visitor entry, on July 22 they created the Go To Travel Campaign.
Japan has many small towns and rural destinations that are often cost-prohibitive to reach; the Go To Travel Campaign aims to change that through domestic travel. However, there have been several snafus and difficulties with the rollout of this campaign, so we thought we’d do our part to clear it up.
What is Go To Travel Campaign Japan?
This campaign is a government-subsidized program reducing the cost of domestic travel. Unlike other foreigner-based programs, this covers any nationality as long as you are currently based in Japan.
This subsidy uses both vouchers and discount booking deals to give you as much as 50% off your travel costs (depending on the price).
The Go To Travel campaign is expected to end on 31 January 2021. However, it’s possible it could extend the period.
Go To Travel Campaign Japan: How to Apply
This is where it can get a little confusing. First, you must use an accommodation/ travel agency/ booking agent that is a participant in the program. This isn’t difficult– there are a large number of travel agencies all over Japan participating, especially in Tokyo.
Using a participating agent, your booking will have a 35% discount that the travel agent will secure for you. While you can use Booking.com as well (for all English), smaller agencies are better both to give back to the economy and better, quicker service! In addition, airfare and transportation are only included if agent books for you.
After you’ve booked the trip itself, you will receive 15% of your travel expenses in additional coupons (making the full 50%). The coupons will be issued either electronically via your travel agent, or at your accommodation upon your arrival. They’re not just like cash, however– they can only be used at participating locations.
Go To Travel Campaign: How to Use Coupons
These coupons can be used to pay certain retailers, restaurants, and tourist attractions or activities.
You can use the Go To Travel Website to find businesses by region and category, and while the official website is entirely in Japanese, a Google translate extension will make it fully functional (if a bit grammatically incorrect).
When you’re at the location, simply use it as cash to pay for the service you’ve received.
Be warned: You cannot receive any change from the vouchers, but you can combine it with cash to cover your bill. For example, if you buy 11,000 yen worth of souvenirs, you could use vouchers worth 12,000 yen and lose the extra 1,000, or you could use 10,000 worth of vouchers and pay 1,000 yen in cash so the next voucher can be used fully.
Go To Travel Campaign: Max Limits
Of course, the question on all our minds: how much can I get? The benefits are for each person, and are divided into two categories.
- For simple day trips, you can receive benefits of up to 10,000 yen per person per day.
- For longer trips, you can receive up to 20,000 yen per person per night.
Remember, these discounts are done as percentages of travel expenses, so you won’t necessarily receive that amount. Of course, trips costing enough to exceed that limit are welcome but you won’t receive any discounts over the set amounts mentioned above, regardless of total costs.
NOTE: This information is accurate as of October 14th, 2020. Please check the official campaign page for the most precise count.
Go To Eat Campaign Japan
After the success of the Go To Travel Campaign, the Go To Eat campaign uses a similar voucher-based discount system and a point system, with a few key differences.
These vouchers generally are good for up to 25% off your bill.
Unlike the travel campaign, this restaurant version is more like coupon books that you can buy from your local government. Rather than reduce the price, they simply add value.
Most coupon books are sold for 10,000 yen, with the prefecture’s subsidy attached as an additional coupon. This means usually the actual value of the coupon book is 12,500 yen for a 25% discount off the total costs. These also do not make a change but can be used together with cash, so make sure your bill is greater than or equal to the sum of your coupons.
You can receive 500 points for lunch and 1,000 points for dinner per person for reservations, which you can use to receive more vouchers for even more discounted dining!
The Go To Eat Campaign ends on 31 January 2021, but you can still use vouchers and points until 31 March 2021.
I thought Tokyo wasn’t covered under the Go To Travel Campaign?
The wait is over and Go To Travel Campaign Tokyo is a go! Now all destinations in Tokyo are covered, as well as more transportation out of it.
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