Go To Travel Explained: How to Enjoy a Trip in Japan At Up to 50% OFF!

Go To Travel Explained: How to Enjoy a Trip in Japan At Up to 50% OFF!

by Live Japan
Live Japan

Japan's Go To Travel Campaign, a Japanese government subsidy-backed tourism program, is under way! But what is this campaign all about, who can benefit from it, and how do interested ones apply for the subsidies?

Also, how long will the Go To Travel Campaign last, and can someone use it to travel overseas and back? What are the differences between phases one and two of the campaign?

Here we'll provide some answers and clear up any doubts for you! In case you didn't already know, you can definitely apply for these subsidies through websites that support English, too!

What does the Go To Travel Campaign cover?

Nara Park in autumn

Let's first properly define what Go To Travel is. This is a program introduced by the Japanese government to revive tourism-related spending in domestic regions and restore travel demand, which has understandably plunged significantly since the start of the pandemic. The first phase of this program provided travel subsidies that covered the period between July 22, 2020 to September 1, 2020, both dates inclusive. The next phase will begin in October 1 and this time, it includes Tokyo City as well. The metropolis was previously not covered in the first phase, so its inclusion in the second phase is a hot topic for discussion among potential travelers.

Without further ado, let's take a look at what phase two can do for you!

Go To Travel Campaign period (Phase 2): Trips starting from Thursday, October 1, 2020

Subsidy: Half of the accommodations or day trip costs for domestic trips (including tour groups), 70% of which is a straight discount for trip costs and 30% in the form of general vouchers to be used at the destination.

Subsidy cap: Capped at 20,000 yen per person per night's stay. For day trips, the cap is 10,000 yen per trip.

Usage limits: No limits to number of usage times or amount of consecutive days. For example, if your trip includes a 2-night stay, the cap will then be 20,000 yen x 2 nights = 40,000 yen.

Applicable travel products:

  • Trips with overnight stays
  1. Accommodations + transportation
  2. Accommodations only
  3. Quasi-accommodations such as cruise ships, night ferries, or sleeper trains (excluding tickets considered seats-only)
  • Day trips

Round trip transportation + food or sightseeing costs at the destination

Applicable persons: Residents of Japan, including service members and other foreigners residing in Japan.

In phase one, which covered the period between July 22 to August 31, travelers were reimbursed 35% of their accommodations or day trip costs. For those who made a reservation or payment directly with the place of accommodation, they were required to apply for this reimbursement manually.

In the second phase, travelers will be reimbursed 50% of travel costs (up to 20,000 yen per night's stay), and vouchers that can be used throughout the region will be issued as well. There is also no need to manually apply for the subsidies anymore.

(* Please note that the above maximum amount and usage restrictions may differ depending on the travel site you are applying through.)

How much can you save with the Go To Travel subsidy exactly?

Ginzan Onsen at Yamagata

We know it's not easy to figure out the exact amount of subsidies you can receive, so here are some examples for you to refer to.

Example 1: Travel or accommodation cost is 20,000 yen

If your travel or accommodation costs come up to 20,000 yen, the subsidy will be 50% of that - i.e., 10,000 yen.

This amount will be split into a cash discount (70% of subsidy, or 7,000 yen) and general vouchers (30% of subsidy, or 3,000 yen).

Important note: What this means specifically is that the discount on your travel cost is 7,000 yen in all, so you'll be paying 13,000 yen in the end.

It doesn't mean your travel cost is given a 50% flat-rate discount of 10,000 yen. Something to keep in mind!

Example 2: Travel costs for a three-day two-night tour is 100,000 yen (including transportation, accommodations, etc.)

If your total cost for a two-day three-night tour comes up to 100,000 yen, because each night's stay qualifies you for a subsidy of up to 20,000 yen per night, your subsidy will be 40,000 yen, of which 70% (28,000 yen) will be a direct discount, and 30% (12,000 yen) will be reimbursed in the form of general vouchers. You'll be paying 72,000 yen (100,000 yen minus 28,000 yen) of the total bill.

(* Please note that the above amount may vary depending on the travel site you apply for.)

How do I get Go To Travel discounts?

Hell Valley, one of the springheads of Hokkaido's famous Noboribetsu Onsen

There is no need to make a special application to qualify for the discounts and vouchers. That's right, not even if you're a foreigner residing in Japan!

Simply ensure that you're buying your travel plans from tour agencies or accommodations that are officially registered with the Go To Travel campaign. As previously explained, the discount is automatically applied, and you only need to pay the rest of the amount to the travel agency or accommodations facility.

In summary:

  1. Reserve or buy from a registered tour agency/travel site
  2. Make a reservation directly with registered accommodations providers

English websites supporting Go To Travel

Travel/bus company websites supporting Go To Travel (Japanese language-only)

How do I use the Go To Travel vouchers at my destination?

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto

We've talked about how 30% of the subsidy will be in the form of general vouchers to be used at the destination, but how exactly does it work?

Voucher amount: 30% of subsidy, or 15% of total travel costs, rounded off to the nearest thousand yen. For example, if the amount is 500 yen or above, you'll be issued a 1,000 yen voucher.

Usage period: Only during your trip.

Usage areas: Your destination prefecture and city + adjacent prefectures and cities

Applicable shops: Shops and facilities registered with the Go To Travel Bureau (souvenir shops, eateries, sightseeing facilities, taxi or transport services, rental cars, etc.)

Voucher types: You'll either receive paper or digital vouchers, depending on your trip destination. Generally, you'll receive paper vouchers if you purchase your trip through travel companies with retail stores or reserve a room at an accommodations facility. If you make your reservation online, the type of vouchers you receive will depend on the service provider you made the reservation with.

Note that no change will be given back for either types of vouchers, even if what you buy does not make up the voucher's full stated amount.

Other important things to remember about Go To Travel

Shirahige Shrine's temple gate floating atop Lake Biwa in Shiga

There are a couple of other important things to remember:

  1. Airplane tickets from overseas to Japan or vice versa are not a part of this program.
  2. Currently, the tentative end-date for the program is January 31, 2021 (checkout by February 1 for those who reserved accommodations).

However, this date is subject to change by the government, depending on the speed in which the budget allotted for the program is used up.

If the budget is used up at a faster pace than anticipated, there's a high chance the program will be ended before January 31, so make your reservations quickly to avoid losing out!

What is the "top-up" subsidy that was announced by Tokyo City?

Ameyoko Shopping Street, Ueno / Sittirak Jadlit / Shutterstock.com

On September 24, Tokyo City and Go To Travel jointly announced that there will be a top-up subsidy of 5,000 yen per person per night's stay, or 2,500 yen for day trips for Tokyo residents purchasing accommodation plans or day trip tours within the metropolitan area, including Tokyo Islands.

Once this policy is implemented, it gives city travelers an enhanced subsidy of up to 25,000 per night's stay, including the 20,000 yen subsidy already being given out by the Go To Travel campaign.

This is exciting news for Tokyo residents who have been waiting for their turn since phase one! Although details are still being ironed out, the subsidy will most probably apply to accommodation plans, day trip tours, and other travel products being sold by travel agencies or accommodation facilities from late October onwards.

Go To Travel - and enjoy Japan's hotels and traditional inns!

Since Tokyo City is giving out extra subsidies to its residents, this is an excellent chance for those who qualify to give that luxury hotel or traditional Japanese inn they normally wouldn't be keen to cough up so much dough for a go.

Another thing to try, even though this won't qualify for the city's extra subsidies, is to book a condominium or other lodgings in the Tokyo suburbs for a workation. It's been known to do wonders for productivity!

Save on these luxury hotels!

Spend your special days like Christmas or New Year's Day in a special hotel! Combine your vouchers with the Go To EAT Campaign and you'll have a splendid dinner covered as well.

Shinagawa Prince Hotel
Minato-ku, Takanawa 4-10-30, Tokyo-to, 108-8611

150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Jingumae, 6-20-10 MIYASHITA PARK North
Nearest Station
Phone Number

Traditional Japanese ryokan inns to put on your bucket list

For busy folks who can't seem to find the time to go out for a trip, there's always the option of enjoying the authentic Japanese experience right within Tokyo City itself. Stay at one of these conveniently located Japanese inns during your city tour for a full cultural immersion!

cyashitsu ryokan asakusa
3 Chome-32-12 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032
Nearest Station
Phone Number

Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu
Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-31-11, Tokyo-to, 111-0032

Resort-like accommodation facilities in the Tokyo suburbs
Surround yourself with nature or gaze at the calm waves of the sea in one of these condominiums or cottages that are great for workations!

zaimokuza seasons
5 Chome-8-25 Zaimokuza, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0013
Nearest Station
Phone Number

Shirahama Ocean Resort
295-0102 Chiba, Minamiboso, Shirahamacho Shirahama, 2784 Shirahama Ocean Resort
Phone Number

Make your trip memorable in a good way by following the new traveling etiquette

With the new normal slowly entering everyone's life, don't forget to follow the new traveling etiquette as well by wearing a mask at all times outside and refraining from making conversation in enclosed spaces like trains and vehicles. Vigilance is key! Sticking to the new etiquette will allow you and your companions to enjoy your subsidized trip with greater peace of mind.

The Go To Eat Campaign will also be launched during the same period, and we've prepared an article that answers burning questions about how foreigners residing in Japan can take advantage of the benefits being offered here as well. Don't forget to take a peek!

Via Live Japan

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