May 19, 2022
TRAVELERS MAY FINALLY soon be able to head back to Japan. On May 17, Japanese officials announced plans to “test” a return to tourism with package tours, Reuters reported. This limited reopening will mark the first time tourists are allowed back into Japan since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic began.
According to the Japanese Tourism Agency, per Reuters, small group tours will be able to resume later this month, which will act as a test to see how a broader national opening may happen in the future.
In order to take part, travelers from Australia, Thailand, Singapore and the U.S. must be triple vaccinated and must come as part of a highly curated tour. Travelers must also be accompanied by the tour operators at all times.
The hope is that this “phased relaxation” of border control will balance out any reinfection spikes, but allow for more economic growth. Tourism, the Japan External Trade Organization reported, accounted for $359 billion in Japan’s gross domestic product, “making it the world’s third-largest market in this sector after the United States and China.”
Business and student-related travel has resumed, however, according to CNN, Japan’s current entry rules allow for just 10,000 new arrivals per day.
“This venture will allow us to verify compliance and emergency responses for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to keep in mind,” the Tourism Agency shared in a statement per CNN.
But that may change following these tests later this summer. As Makoto Shimoaraiso, a Cabinet Secretariat official for Japan’s Covid-19 response, shared with Reuters, “We are currently discussing concrete plans for border measures after June, including quarantine measures such as testing and standby (status).”
Japan is one of the last hold-outs in Asia, where this year countries including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, India, Malaysia and most recently Laos have jumped aboard the reopening train for vaccinated tourists.