Japan to resume tourism in June, with holidaymakers from 98 countries including Britain, the U.S, Australia, France and Spain allowed in – as long as they’re on a package tour
- Japan to expand the number of airports that accept international flights to seven
- It will take some time before visitors can come to Japan for individual tourism
- Foreign tourist arrivals in Japan fell more than 90 per cent in 2020
Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since imposing tight pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but only for package tours for now.
Japan will also expand the number of airports that accept international flights to seven, adding Naha in its southern Okinawa prefecture and New Chitose near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.
Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since imposing tight pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but only for package tours for now. Pictured is Japan’s Mount Fuji
All arrivals have to test negative before travel to Japan and many must be tested again on arrival, though triple-vaccinated people coming from certain countries can skip the additional test as well as a three-day quarantine required for others.
Japan this week is hosting small experimental package tours from four countries – Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. That experiment, which involves only 50 people who received special visas, not tourist visas, is to end on May 31.
‘Free and active exchange of people is the foundation of economy and society, as well as that of Asia’s development,’ Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday.
Japan, while watching the infection situation, will gradually accept more tourists in stages to the level of arrivals before the pandemic, he added.
After facing criticism that its strict border controls were xenophobic, Japan began easing its restrictions earlier this year and currently allows entry of up to 10,000 people a day, including Japanese citizens, foreign students and some business travellers.
Japan will double the cap to 20,000 a day in June, which will also include package tour participants, said Makoto Shimoaraiso, a Cabinet official in charge of pandemic measures.
Beginning June 10, Japan will allow the entry of package holiday tourists from 98 countries and regions including Britain, the United States, France, Spain, Canada, and Malaysia. Above is a sunset picture of Tokyo
The scale of the package tours and other details will be finalised after officials evaluate the results of the current experimental tours, he said.
It will take some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for individual tourism, Shimoaraiso said.
Japan this week also eased requests for mask-wearing. While masks are still requested on public transportation, and in hospitals and other public facilities, people can take off masks outdoors where others are not around or talking. Despite the easing, most Japanese so far are seen sticking to wearing masks in public.
Japan’s tourism industry, hit hard by the border controls, is eager for foreign tourism to resume. Covid-19 infections have slowed in Japan since earlier this year and the government is gradually expanding social and economic activity.
Kishida said during a visit to London earlier this month that he planned to ease the border controls as early as June in line with the policies of other Group of Seven industrialised countries, but gave no further details.
Foreign tourist arrivals fell more than 90 per cent in 2020 from a record 31.9million the year before, almost wiping out the pre-pandemic inbound tourism market of more than four-trillion yen ($31billion/£24.5billion).