[Update, July 21] On July 17, the national government announced that the Go to Travel campaign will not apply to trips to and from Tokyo. This decision was made after the campaign was first announced, drawing criticism and causing much confusion amongst domestic travellers. For those affected by this new ruling and wish to cancel trips reserved between July 10 and 17, the national government has asked hotels and tour operators to not charge cancellation fees; instead, the government will compensate the operators directly.
[July 17] The Go to Travel campaign sounds like a dream come true. The Japanese government will provide subsidies of up to 50 percent off domestic trips, which will not only boost the economy and support local businesses but also give people a much-needed vacation.
Unfortunately, Tokyoites will have to sit this campaign out – for now. Due to the city’s increasing number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases, which saw Tokyo register a new record of 286 confirmed cases on July 16 – the Japanese government has decided to exclude travel to and from Tokyo from the campaign. This means Tokyoites who travel outside the prefecture and other Japanese residents who travel to Tokyo are not eligible for the subsidy. However, the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama are still included in the campaign.
The decision to exclude Tokyo was approved by the central government’s coronavirus subcommittee. The Japan Times reports that Shigeru Omi, the head of the subcommittee, said the campaign will not include Tokyo 'for the time being'. There’s still some hope, though. Once the rate of infection slows down in Tokyo, the government will consider adding the metropolis into the campaign.
The government is also debating postponing the start date of the campaign, but no official announcement has been made yet. Under the Go to Travel campaign, travellers will receive up to 50 percent savings on their trips within Japan. The campaign is currently expected to start on July 22 and will provide an initial 35 percent rebate on travel expenses until August 31. Starting September 1, travellers will receive an additional 15 percent subsidy in the form of vouchers to be used at their destination.
If you’re eligible for the Go to Travel campaign, read our guide on how to properly social distance while you’re out.
Additional reporting by Youka Nagase
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