Japan could pay half of your next trip in new 'GoToTravel' stimulus package | Update August 2020
Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Find out if you qualify for a subsidised family holiday under the new package.
More details are now available about the Japanese Government's campaign to promote domestic tourism, by subsidising up to 50% of a traveller's qualifying travel expenses.
Named 'Go To Travel', partial implementation of the campaign subsidy applies now (for travel from 22 July 2020 until 17 March 2021...or when the total budget of ¥1.7 trillion runs out), with full implementation of the subsidy scheduled for a date in September 2020 (exact date yet to be announced).
In a blow to foreign tourists, the campaign requires a traveller to be resident in Japan, and if applying directly for the subsidy, the holder of a domestic bank account.
If you qualify and want to participate in the campaign, read on...
The Head of the Japan Tourism Agency announced initial news of the campaign to boost the flagging Japanese tourism sector at the time of first writing this post (21 May 2020). Initial reports of the announcement suggested that inbound tourists, as well as domestic tourists, would be able to participate.
After waiting some time for clarification of the campaign, more details have now been released and only domestic tourism, by travellers resident in Japan, can qualify.
The campaign covers up to half of qualifying travel, accommodation and retail expenses, capped at ¥20,000 per person per night for overnight travel, or ¥10,000 per person for single-day trips.
How the subsidy works involves the traveller paying 65% of their qualifying travel expenses and the Japanese Government will pay the remaining 35%. In addition to the 35% subsidy, the Japanese Government will also issue the traveller with travel coupons to the value of 15% of the qualifying travel expense total, with these coupons able to be used at the travel destination to buy food, souvenirs etc.
Prior to September 2020, however, only the 35% Government subsidy applies (i.e. no 15% add on coupon subsidy). Once the further 15% add on coupon subsidy kicks in, the total value of the subsidy will be boosted to the full 50% of qualifying travel expenses. Direct applications to subsidise travel that took place on or after the campaign's commencement date of 22 July 2020, can be made as from 15 August 2020.
Sounds complicated? The campaign operates in its most straightforward way via domestic travel intermediaries.
To take advantage of the subsidy without having to pay for qualifying travel fully 'up front' and then deal directly with all of the associated paperwork to obtain the subsidy via a rebate, qualifying travellers should make their bookings through either a campaign-registered travel agency, or a campaign-registered booking website. Local Tourism Authorities are also expected to be able to facilitate participation in the scheme, in association with campaign-registered accommodations.
There’s no limit to the number of trips that may be subsidised, nor is there a limit on the number of consecutive nights at the destination that can qualify.
We understand that further ‘Go To’ campaigns are planned, and details of 'Go To Eat' and 'Go To Shop' campaigns are apparently to be released soon.
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With the travel and tourism sector in Japan accounting for around 8% of GDP, the 'Go To' campaigns will be critical, albeit fairly complicated, initiatives to assist in reactivating Japan's COVID-19 impaired economy.
In a related post, we offer suggestions about choosing the right accommodation post- COVID-19.
More details about the 'Go To Travel' campaign can be found on the Go-To Campaign website. If you cannot read Japanese, visit the page in Google Chrome and use the translate feature, to see it in your native language.