‘Go To Travel’ explained

Part of a larger "Go To" campaign intended to restart the Japanese economy following the damage caused by the coronavirus, Go To Travel is a campaign by the national government that offers big discounts on travel inside Japan. Only residents of Japan (including foreign residents) are eligible to take advantage of the campaign.

What is Go To Travel?

It is a campaign that cuts the cost for accommodation and travel packages in half. The savings come in form of:

  • A 35 percent discount on the total cost and
  • Coupons worth 15 percent of the total cost to be spent on other travel expenses during the trip

A couple books an overnight trip costing 40,000 yen
They receive a 14,000 yen discount (35%) and pay only 26,000 yen
They receive 6,000 yen (15%) in coupons

Is there an upper limit?

Yes, there is. The maximum discount that can be received for overnight trips is 13,000 yen per person and night, while the maximum amount of coupons that can be received is 7,000 yen per person and night. In other words, the upper limit applies to travel plans that cost more than 40,000 yen per person and night.

In case of daytrips, the travelers can receive a discount of up to 7,000 yen and coupons of up to 3,000 yen per trip.

The upper limit for a 4-day 3-night trip is:
  discount: 13,000 yen x 3 nights = 39,000 yen per person
coupons: 7,000 yen x 3 nights = 21,000 yen per person

A couple books a 3-day 2-night trip costing 200,000 yen, which is above the 160,000 yen (40,000 yen x 2 nights x 2 persons) to which no upper limit would apply
Their combined upper limit is:
  discount: 13,000 yen x 2 nights x 2 persons = 52,000 yen
coupons: 7,000 yen x 2 nights x 2 persons = 28,000 yen
They receive a 52,000 yen discount and pay 148,000 yen
They receive 28,000 yen in coupons

Note that children are counted the same as adults. For example, a family of four with two kids can receive a discount of up to 52,000 yen (4 x 13,000 yen) and coupons of up to 28,000 yen (4 x 7,000 yen) on an overnight trip, even if the kids stay for free.

Furthermore, note that only up to seven nights per trip are covered by the campaign. On trips that are longer than eight days, travelers will not be able to profit from the campaign from the 8th night. Note that there is no limit on how many trips can be made during the campaign.

Who is eligible?

All residents of Japan, including foreign residents. A restriction that excluded residents of Tokyo from the campaign was removed on October 1. Residents of areas that are currently excluded from the campaign (currently: the cities of Osaka and Sapporo) are not excluded from using the campaign.

Can temporary visitors to Japan use the campaign?

No, only residents of Japan are eligible.

How long does the campaign last?

The campaign started in late July and is currently scheduled to cover trips through January 31, 2021; however, there is a possibility that it will get extended.

Are there any other conditions for participating?

Yes, all participating travelers are requested to follow the "new travel etiquette" with regards to preventing the spread of the coronavirus on their trips. Please visit our page about coronavirus manners for more details.

What is covered?

The discounts apply to:

  • Overnight stays at registered lodgings
  • Travel plans purchased through registered travel agents

A large majority of hotels and travel agents across the country are registered. Lists of registered businesses are available on the campaign's official website.

Are all regions of Japan covered?

In principle, all regions of Japan are covered by the campaign; however, due to a recent rise in infection numbers, it has been decided to temporarily exclude badly affected areas from the campaign. Currently on the list of excluded areas are the cities of Osaka and Sapporo.

During the exclusion period, which is currently set to last through December 15, it is not possible to make new reservations for hotels and travel plans in the affected area; however, residents of the excluded areas are allowed to continue using the campaign. Existing reservations for dates before December 1 will remain covered by the campaign; however, existing reservations for dates between December 1 and 15 will not be covered. It will be decided later whether the exclusion period will be extended beyond December 15 and if additional areas will be added to the list.

Does the campaign also apply to transportation, activities, meals and shopping?

Only if they are part of a travel plan. For example, the discount cannot be applied to regular purchases of flights or rental cars; however, they do apply if a flight or rental car is part of a travel package sold through a registered travel agent. Likewise, if an activity or meal is part of the travel package, the campaign applies.

Furthermore, the coupons received can be used to pay additional travel expenses not covered by the travel package, such as meals and souvenir shopping. Note, however, that the coupons can be used only at registered businesses.

What type of daytrips are eligible?

The campaign applies only to daytrip travel packages sold by registered travel agents. The packages have to include 1) transport starting and ending at the same place on the same day and 2) at least some form of travel service besides transport in the destination area, e.g. meals or activities. For example, it does not cover 1-day bus tours that do not include any activities at the destination.

How many times can I use the campaign?

There is no limit on how many trips you can make during the campaign period. However, there is a limit of seven nights per trip that can be covered, meaning that those traveling for more than eight days are not able to profit from the campaign from the 8th night. The campaign is currently slated to run through January 31, 2021, and there is a possibility that it will get extended.

How can I use it?

There are mainly two ways to profit from the campaign:

  1. Book a stay at a registered hotel through the hotel, a travel agent or a reservation website that participates in the campaign.
  2. Purchase a travel package through a registered travel agent.

At the time of your booking, you pay 65% of the total cost for the accommodation or package, while the 15% in coupons will be issued to you by the travel agent or hotel.

Where can I book my trip?

A list of registered hotels and travel agents can be found in Japanese on the campaign's official website. Many hotel reservation websites are also participating in the Go To Travel campaign, including Booking.com and Agoda.

How do I use the coupons?

Coupons can be used to make payments at registered stores and restaurants and for transportation and other travel services in the prefecture visited and surrounding prefectures during the day(s) of your trip. They cannot be refunded. A map showing registered businesses can be found on the campaign's official website.

Depending on the issuing agent, the coupons are issued either in paper form or electronic form (to be used with a mobile device). Note that coupons are issued in multiples of 1000 yen, with the amount being rounded up or down to the nearest 1000 yen (500 and more is rounded up; less than 500 is rounded down).

For a travel product costing 10,000 yen, you are eligible for 1,500 yen (15%) of coupons, but will actually receive 2,000 yen (because 1,500 yen gets rounded up to 2,000 yen)
For a travel product costing 3,000 yen, you are eligible for 450 yen (15%) of coupons, but you won't actually receive any coupon (because 450 yen gets rounded down to 0 yen)