We’re all getting a bit of cabin fever from working at home, being stuck inside during the rainy season and staring at the constant Covid-19 coronavirus news cycle on our phones. A spot of vacation would do just the trick. Since international travel to Japan is still largely impossible, the Japanese government has shifted its attention to boosting domestic tourism for now. In May, it hinted at a new travel initiative that will cut costs in half for domestic trips. Now, in the heat of summer, the Go to Travel campaign is becoming a reality.
Starting July 22, just in time for the four-day national holiday weekend (originally planned to be the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening weekend), domestic travellers will be able to get a government subsidy for single-day trips costing up to ¥10,000 and for multi-day trips with overnight stays costing up to ¥20,000.
To kick off the campaign, from July 22 until August 31, travellers will receive an initial 35 percent discount on their travel expenses. Beginning in September, travellers will also receive coupons and gift certificates to be used at their destination, making the total value of the government subsidy equal to about half the cost of the trip. The coupons and gift certificates can be used at restaurants, souvenir shops and selected tourist attractions; participating venues are expected to place a sticker on their storefronts for easy identification.
Although the campaign begins on July 22, the Go to Travel promotion won’t be integrated into travel agency and hotel booking websites until July 27. If you’ve already booked and paid for a vacation for July 22 or later, you’re still eligible for a discount. To get your refund, you’ll have to fill out an application form with receipts and proof of your trip – forms should be available at your hotel, and on the official Go to Travel website, once it launches.
The campaign aims to help revive the domestic economy while also supporting small businesses that were affected by the lack of travel during the state of emergency. The Go to Travel campaign is an initiative of Japan’s national government, but Tokyoites should bear in mind that Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is currently discouraging non-essential cross-prefectural travel, since the number of coronavirus cases has dramatically increased in the capital city in recent weeks.
Remember to read our guide on how to go out safely in Tokyo, or anywhere for that matter.
Additional reporting by Youka Nagase
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