After more than two years of closed border policy, Japan will welcome international travelers back this week.
On June 10, foreign tourists traveling via package tours can enter Japan.
However, the government’s priority remains to increase the number of domestic tourism, said Tadashi Shimura, president of the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
Even before the pandemic, domestic tourism contributed far more to Japan’s overall gross domestic product than foreign tourism, according to JATA.
Total tourism contributed 28 trillion yen ($ 211 billion) to Japan’s economy in 2019, with nearly 80% – or 22 trillion yen – from domestic tourists, according to a report by the Japan Tourism Agency.
Despite an increase in Covid cases in 2021, tourism spending by those living in Japan still managed to bring in 9.2 trillion yen that year, JTA said.
Nevertheless, it is still important to increase international arrivals to Japan, especially for the hard-hit hospitality, transport and travel sectors, Shimura said.
Japan received around 32 million foreign visitors in 2019 and had been on track to reach its goal of 40 million by 2022, said Ejaz Ahmed, a research analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, during a webinar on June 1.
However, the pandemic caused the numbers to drop rapidly, and there were only 250,000 foreign visitors in 2021, the authorities had previously shown.
The loss of international travelers has cost Japan “about 10 trillion yen over the past two years,” Shimura said, as spending by international students and long-term residents brought in an average of 4.3 million yen per person per year, he said, citing . a report from the Nomura Research Institute.
Travel agencies in Japan are getting ready for the return of tourists with package tours to well-known destinations across the country.
All Japan Tours has six tour packages, including the “Golden Route Japan Tour” which takes participants on an eight-day tour around Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto for $ 2698.
What are the rules?
The daily ceiling on the number of visitor arrivals – which includes Japanese nationals and returned foreign nationals – doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 on June 1, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Local reports indicate that the government may increase the limit to 30,000 people in July.
Still, Shimura said, these limits are too low, as the country used to receive “140,000 [visitors] per day.”
Countries are classified into three categories – blue, red and yellow – and travelers may be subject to further restrictions depending on where they come from, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Travelers from 98 countries and regions – including the US, UK, Singapore and China – fall into the “blue” category and are not required to test or quarantine on arrival or be vaccinated to enter.
Travelers from some of the 99 countries in the “yellow” category are also exempt from testing and quarantine on arrival if they have received three doses of an accepted Covid-19 vaccination. The category includes countries such as India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
Those coming from “red” countries, such as Fiji, Pakistan and Sierra Leone, must test on arrival and be quarantined for a period of three to seven days.