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‘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. The campaign currently excludes residents of Tokyo and travel expenses inside Tokyo because the city's infection numbers have been higher than elsewhere. The limitations on Tokyo are expected to be removed from October 1.

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

Example
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

* Important note: the coupon system has not been implemented yet, and those who book now, will be able to profit only from the 35 percent discount. The coupon system is scheduled to commence from October 1.

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.

Example
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

Example
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.

Who is eligible?

Residents of Japan, including foreign residents. However, for the time being, residents of Tokyo are excluded from the campaign because infection numbers in the city used to be particularly high. The limitation on Tokyo residents is expected to be removed from October 1.

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 this date is subject to an overall budget and may be extended at a later point.

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

Roughly two thirds of hotels and travel agents across the country are currently registered, and it is expected that the number will further grow. Lists of registered businesses are available on the campaign's official website (in Japanese).

Are all regions of Japan covered?

All regions of Japan are covered by the campaign with the exception of Tokyo which is currently excluded from the campaign because infection numbers in the city used to be particularly high. It means that stays at hotels in Tokyo and travel plans that include Tokyo are currently not covered by the campaign. The limitation on Tokyo is expected to be removed on October 1.

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, e.g. meals or activities in the destination area. 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 or on the length of each trip. The campaign is currently slated to run through January 31, 2021, but it may be extended at a later point.

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?

Important note: the coupon system has not been implemented yet, and those who book now, will be able to profit only from the 35 percent discount. The coupon system is scheduled to commence from October 1.

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.

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).

Examples
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)