The ‘Go To Travel’ Campaign in Japan during the Pandemic, Travelling Safely while Supporting the Travel Industry

There is a pandemic raging right? Economies are hurting and much thought is being given, to just how to manage the spread of the virus and prevent the economy from tanking. These are tough times.

The ‘Go To Travel’ Campaign is an initiative that was started here in Japan to prop up the travel industry. It gives really good discounts on trains, hotels and travellers can get discount coupons to apply to purchases at restaurants and other eligible shops. It is oh so tempting because the deals are really good across the country. All this is happening during the pandemic though.

In my last post I mentioned how crowded downtown Karuizawa was when we were there. I was so shocked at this because I just did not think people where using the campaign, given what is happening with the pandemic. Imagine my surprise when we tried to eat out at a few places for dinner and were told we had to wait an hour. I was already wary of eating out anyway, so we agreed to take the food to go.

The campaign seems to be working but I and many others worry if it will lead to more people getting the virus. We really hope this won’t happen. People here, for the most part, are pretty vigilant about wearing their masks, though it is not always easy to social distance in these packed areas. It makes me wonder about what it really means to travel safely and responsibly at this time?

The campaign will run until the end of January I believe, so it will take us through the colder months and over the long holiday period at the end of the year. We are already seeing the numbers creeping up, so again I am left wondering about the impact of this since it seems to be a catch 22 situation. It is really tempting though for those who have places they want to go and see. Travelling is very expensive here in Japan, so getting a 30% discount on the Shinkansen and hotels push many people to go for it. My knee jerk reaction at the start of the campaign was that I needed to make use of it. After pondering it for a moment, I decided not to because I have travelled extensively here and I do not feel I can enjoy social distancing in many tourist destinations.

It’s a great time to travel in Japan now though, especially for those who can go out about on weekdays. The country is closed to tourists and many people may not have the time to travel on weekdays.

The ‘Go To Travel’ campaign is pretty attractive for us travellers and it keeps money flowing into the tourist industry here. Hotels and other establishments have certain protocols in place such as checking one’s temperature, providing sanitiser in different spots and have statements asking everyone to wear a mask. This is what travelling safely and responsibly during the pandemic looks like. It is also good that the industry can support itself to a certain degree with domestic tourists and this government run initiative. Is anything like this happening anywhere else in the world?

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