The emergency declaration ended, and summer is just around the corner. To save and stimulate the mostly dead tourism economy, Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) will launch the Go To Travel Campaign. Budgeted at 1.1 trillion yen, the government will cover 35% of your traveling expenses from July 22, 2020 until mid-March, 2021, or until they run out money.
The Go To Travel campaign is for those who live in Japan and are planning to travel domestically. The campaign originally aims to stimulate domestic demand so most of the information has so far been in Japanese.
The campaign will cover 35% of the traveler’s accommodations and transportation, with the subsidy capping at ¥20,000 per person per night, or ¥10,000 per person for day trips. In addition, from September 1, local coupons spent on souvenirs or local restaurants (15% of a traveler’s cost) will be released, that means the government will cover 50% of your traveling expenses in the end. The local tourism bureau is now inviting shops and restaurants to participate so that coupons can be used there.
The applicants need to book through 1) travel agencies or travel booking sites or 2) directly with the website of the establishment at which they’ll be staying. Keep in mind that the campaign will start from July 22. If you have already booked your accommodations and transportation for dates after July 22 or ahead, you can apply for the benefits AFTER your travel. The details are not announced yet, though, so applicants will need to prepare an application form and a certificate issued by the hotels and ryokans you booked. And then your travel cost will be refunded.
1) Travel agencies and travel booking site
If you haven’t decided your traveling plans yet, it’s better to book after the travel agencies launch the package plans at the already discounted price since you don’t need to apply anything for this campaign by yourself.
2) Accommodation’s website
In this case, you need to ask the hotel or ryokan whether the campaign will apply to your booking since some hotels and ryokans are not participating. Check their website or call them before booking.
On July 27, the list of hotels and ryokans applicable for this campaign was disclosed. Check whether the hotel or ryokan you want to stay is in the list. Japan Tourism Agency will keep on updating the list until August 31, the application deadline for this campaign.
Other than the Go To Travel campaign, the Go To Eat and Go To Event campaigns were also triggered to attract more tourists.
Through the Go To Eat campaign, which will start around August, the users will be awarded with online points equivalent of up to 1,000 yen and/or up to a 20% discount coupon. The applicants will be using booking sites like Tabelog , Hotpepper , and Gurunabi . The Go To Event campaign will provide you with about 20% off discounts or coupons if you purchase your ticket via the ticket booking site. The details of the schedule of these campaigns are not disclosed yet. We will follow up and provide you with the latest information.
This is a controversial campaign and some local leaders consider that it’s kicking in too soon since the number of coronavirus infection is getting worse each day.
Tokyo recording 286 cases on Thursday, its largest number ever until Friday’s numbers soared even higher, the government announced that they will exclude journeys to and from Tokyo. Even though the number of cases is rising, most of the patients are around 20 to 30 and the symptoms are quite mild, so most predict a state of emergency will not be announced this time around.
After decided to exclude Tokyo, the government came up with a second policy of the campaign that covers cancellation fees. The target is those who made reservations or bookings between July 10 and July 17. If you want to cancel your trip, the travel companies are told not to charge cancellation fees. If you have already paid the fees, you will apply for the travel company to pay back. If the companies suffer financial damage, the government will reimburse it. Companies will be the ones submitting applications to the government, which is aimed to be start at the beginning of August.
The application period is yet to be disclosed. The government originally had no intention to cover the cancellation fees, though their sudden decision to exclude Tokyo upset many travel agents and their customers, which forced the government to change the policy.
Since the state of emergency, people’s behaviors have focused on “not to die from the coronavirus” so they stayed home and patiently waited for things to get better. But now, it’s time to change our lifestyle from “not to die” to “to live with the coronavirus”. As such, life in cities like Tokyo has continued but with changes that reflect what has become the new normal due to the pandemic. As such, don’t forget to wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distance. If you decide to travel within Japan, be mindful of the situation.
The revised policies still cast a shadow on those traveling to and from Tokyo since they occupy most of the market. The campaign was designed to boost the domestic economy and help tourism, but the exclusion of Tokyo has so far resulted in the exact opposite.