Japan to give discounts of $190 a day to boost domestic tourism

Japan’s battered tourism industry has welcomed a government support package to keep the massive travel industry afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

To promote domestic travel and to help boost local businesses, the Japanese government has set up the Go to Travel campaign, which provides subsidies of up to 50% on your costs for transportation, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and shopping, all within Japan. 

“The Go To campaign is part of the government’s effort at a staged reopening of the economy. When people check in to a facility, they’ll get their temperature checked and they’ll be expected to practice social distancing at mealtimes,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

The chaos and last-minute changes to the campaign have left tourism agencies confused about what, exactly, they can offer. There is skepticism among travel agencies and of course the travelling public who wants to be as safe as possible.

Osaka Government's Hirofumi Yoshimura said, "Just moving around isn’t that great a risk. What’s important is what you do at the place you go to.”

Now many media outlets and travel blogs suggested that the program was for locals and foreign tourists but this simply is not true. They were either ill-informed, or they simply want to create a headline like "Japan will pay you to travel" so they get more clicks and likes.

Unfortunately, foreign travellers are excluded from any deals associated with this campaign.

Here are the most FAQ about this campaign:

What kinds of trips are eligible?

The discount only applies to domestic trips and can only be claimed up to a set limit. For day trips, the maximum eligible spend is ¥10,000 per day, while for overnight and longer trips, the maximum is ¥20,000 per night. Until the coupons are distributed on October 1, the maximum spend is ¥7,000 per day and ¥14,000 per night respectively. Trips costing more than these amounts are still eligible for the Go to Travel scheme, but discounts will only apply up to those limits.

Where can I get the discount?

To receive the discount, you’ll need to book your trip with businesses that are registered with the campaign. You can find a list of participating businesses on the official Go to Travel website (Japanese only).  Most major Japanese travel agencies are included in the promotion and, once it's integrated with their booking systems, you’ll pay the discounted price when booking directly through the agency. 

Are airfares included? If booked through a travel agency, then yes, your airfare is included.

Where can I use the coupons? Go to Travel will release a list of participating businesses and locations including souvenir shops, restaurants, tourist attractions and activities. Coupons are non-refundable and you cannot receive change when you pay with the coupons. They will be distributed in physical and electronic form, and you’ll receive them via your travel agencies or at your hotel. 

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