The Go To Travel Campaign, launched on July 22, 2020, was promptly suspended only months later, on December 28. However, with the lifting of the quasi-state of emergency on March 21, 2022, there are hopes that the campaign will soon return.
However, we still have yet to hear an official government announcement as of July 2022.
As far as a Go To Travel revival goes, however, rather than put it into action all at once, the travel campaign will be seeing a more gradual start, beginning with the resumption of the Prefectural Residents' Discount program in March and the launch of a new travel subsidy, the Regional Block Discount. Many people have taken advantage of these during the long holiday in May, Golden Week.
So, what exactly is the Go To Travel campaign? And when will it resume? What changes will take place? Also, what are the Prefectural Residents' Discount and Regional Block Discount programs all about?
You've probably asked these questions yourself. In this article, we'll attempt to answer them!
*Go To Travel renewal date still to be determined as of July 15, 2022.
*Article based on information available as of July 15, 2022.
- Table of Contents
What is the Go To Travel Campaign?
Go To Travel is a subsidy program initiated by the Japanese government to restore travel and promote tourism throughout Japan's various regions.
The campaign's first phase began on July 22, 2020, and lasted until September 1, 2020. The second phase launched on October 1 of the same year, and caused quite a stir with the addition of Tokyo as an eligible region, after being excluded from phase one.
The campaign, however, was promptly suspended by the end of the year in response to the fifth wave of Covid-19.
Although an announcement on November 19, 2021, hinted at changes being made in preparation for the campaign's resumption, as of July 2022, there is still yet to be an official announcement of its start date.
However, several steps have been implemented toward its revival. The Prefectural Residents' Discount, a regional travel subsidy implemented throughout each individual prefecture, was renewed in March of 2022.
A new Block Discount has also been established, expanding the Prefectural Residents' Discount to regional blocks such as Tohoku, Kanto, and Kinki.
The goal of these programs is to gradually take a 'soft landing approach' to curb infection rates. The movement is summarized below.
Step-By-Step Plan Toward Go To Travel Campaign Renewal
Renewal of Prefectural Residents' Discount starting April 2022: For travel within the prefecture of residence and neighboring prefectures. Will resume sequentially for individual prefectures in areas where infection has been curbed.
Regional Block Discount starting April 2022: Until now, prefectural discounts have only applied to individual prefectures. This step will gradually expand that range to include 'regional blocks'. Regions will be divided into six blocks, including Hokkaido/Tohoku, Kanto, and Hokuriku Shinetsu/Chubu.
First half of July 2022 - Start of "National Travel Support" postponed: The country had been considering shifting from "Prefectural Residents' Discount" to a nationwide "National Travel Support" program to stimulate tourism demand, but this was postponed due to a rise in Covid cases.
Renewal of Go To Travel Campaign
(*No official announcement as of July 2022)
From the first half of July 2022, the country planned to commence its "National Travel Support" program (in Step 3) and see the completion of the "Prefectural Residents' Discount" for accommodation on July 14 (with check-out on July 15).
Due to the recent rise in Covid cases, the Japan Tourism Agency decided to postpone the start of "National Travel Support" on July 14, opting to extend the "Prefectural Residents' Discount (Block Discount)" until August 31 (with check-out on September 1).
However, the decision on whether to extend the period will be made on a prefecture-by-prefecture basis and officially announced. Prefectures that do not extend the program will suspend it at the current deadline of July 14 (for check-out on July 15).
Go To Travel Campaign Renewal Step One: Prefectural Residents' Discounts
The Prefectural Residents' Discount in step one of the step-by-step plan will be put into effect until the resumption of the Go To Travel campaign. It includes travel discounts within the user's prefecture of residence and neighboring prefectures.
Prefectural Residents' Discount Summary:
・Discounts of up to 5,000 yen per person per night, up to 50% of the original price. The same applies to day trips.
・Discounts up to 2,000 yen per person/night provided for souvenir shops, restaurants, and public transportation. The same applies to day trips.
・To be eligible for prefectural discounts, a user must have had both vaccines or a negative PCR test (test not required for children under 12 accompanied by a guardian).
・Prefectural discounts for accommodations until May 31, 2022. Not applicable during Golden Week (April 29-May 8, 2022).
As an example, if you stay at an inn for 10,000 yen per person per night, you'll receive a discount of 5,000 yen. If you apply additional discounts at a value of up to 2,000 yen, you can save as much as 7,000 yen.
The above are the basic conditions set by the Japan Tourism Agency. However, specific details on the system and content, including discount rates and vaccination requirements, may vary by municipality. Please be sure to check your local government's official website for accurate information.
Go To Travel Campaign Renewal Step Two: Regional Block Discounts
This program divides Japan into six regions. Discounts that were previously only available for travel within the same prefecture or neighboring prefectures will now apply to prefectures within the same regional block, which means a broader range of travel.
The addition of applicable regions will be dependent on consent from each prefecture. For example, if Kanagawa Prefecture wants to attract Chiba residents, but does not obtain the consent of Chiba Prefecture, it will not be eligible for the Regional Block Discount. Application of Regional Block Discounts will be announced and commence according to each prefecture's ability to make adjustments.
Regional Block Discount Summary:
・Regions are divided into the following six blocks. Please note that Yamanashi Prefecture is included in the Kanto Region, and Mie Prefecture is included in the Hokuriku Shinetsu/Chubu Region.
- Hokkaido/Tohoku Region
- Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima
- Kanto Region
- Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi
- Hokuriku Shinetsu / Chubu Region
- Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Nagano, Fukui, Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie
- Kinki Region
- Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama
- Chugoku / Shikoku Region
- Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi
- Kyushu / Okinawa
- Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyagi, Kagoshima, Okinawa
・Visitors residing outside the prefecture must meet vaccination requirements, such as having received up to three vaccinations, or receiving a negative PCR test. (Test not required for children under 12 if accompanied by a guardian).
As with the Prefectural Residents' Discount, requirements such as vaccination status and other applicable conditions are determined by individual prefectures. Please visit the campaign homepage for each prefecture for more details.
Note that for travel outside of the block, each municipality may have its own discount system, as well. Be sure to check the official website of each municipality for more information.
For example, the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido, has its own 'Hakodate Wari,' a special discount that only applies to that city. Non-residents of Hakodate or other prefectures within that region may receive a 50% discount when spending a minimum of 3,000 yen per person per night at specified Hakodate accommodations (see terms and conditions for details).
What We Currently Know About the Pre-renewal Go To Travel Campaign
Finally, although the exact renewal date is still to be determined, let's take a look at what we currently know about the New Go To Travel Campaign, as announced on November 19, 2021.
30% discount on accommodation and day trips for domestic travel (including group travel)
Max Discount: (per night)
Accommodation plus transportation: up to 10,000 yen / Accommodation only: up to 7,000 yen
Max Discount: (day trip)
Up to 3,000 yen
Regional Common Coupon: (per night)
Weekdays: 3,000 yen / Holidays: 1,000 yen
Health & Safety Measures:
Implementation of Vaccine-Test Package (*) / Report when testing positive within 2 weeks after travel / Record of travel history behavior
The Vaccine-Test Package
(*) The Vaccine-Test Package allows relaxed restrictions for travelers upon confirmation of either vaccination status or test results.
・Vaccination Status: Proof of receiving both vaccinations, with at least 14 days since the second vaccination.
・Test Results: Confirmation of negative test results of PCR test or rapid antigen test. Results are valid within 3 days from the sample collection date for PCR tests (or from the test date if the sample collection date is unknown), and within one day for rapid antigen tests.
Content including discount rates and regional coupons revised from previous Go To Travel Campaign.
Vaccination and Infection Status in Japan as of July 2022
According to government data, as of July 14, 2022, 82.0% (103,796,378 people) of the population have received their first dose of the new Covid-19 vaccination, 80.9% (102,432,324 people) have received their second, and 62.3% (78,845,744 people) have received their third.
However, although the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has encouraged vaccination throughout the municipalities, they have not declared vaccinations mandatory for children in Japan due to evidence regarding preventive effects in children remaining uncertain.
This is reflected in the numbers, showing 18.9% (1,402,011 children) have received their first vaccination, and 17.5% (1,299,419 children) have received their second.
After going through the preliminary steps of the Prefectural Residents' Discount and Regional Block Discounts, Japan may finally be able to proceed with the Go To Travel Campaign throughout the country.
As of July 2022, the number of Covid cases in Japan has been increasing nationwide and is said to be in the seventh wave, and increased contact is expected to continue due to the summer vacation. There has been no official announcement from the government as to when the "Go To Travel" campaign will resume.
Prime Minister Kishida announced at a press conference that the scope of coverage for the fourth vaccination will be expanded from the current 60 years and older to include healthcare workers and staff of elderly care facilities, and that vaccination will begin from the week of July 18 onward.
He also stated that he is not considering any new restrictions on activities at this time, and that he intends to maintain a balance between socio-economic activities and mitigating the spread of infection.
We can only hope that as people take advantage of these decentralized travel campaigns, each and every one will also continue to take thorough measurements to prevent the spread of the virus.
*Article based on information available as of July 15, 2022.
*Conditions and methods of use vary by prefecture. The information in this article may differ from actual information. Please check the Japan Tourism Agency and prefectural government websites for the latest information.
*All photos for illustrative purposes only.
Translated by: Krys Suzuki
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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