Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on 31 August that Japan will allow more than double the number of daily visitors as well as non-guided package tours.
As per the announcement, Japan will let 50,000 people enter the country daily starting 7 September. The current figure stands at 20,000.
Bloomberg reports that Kishida also said that he wanted to increase visits from people trying to take advantage of a cheap Japanese yen and, as such, wanted to ease border controls.
How Japan started its reopening
Initial rules were extremely strict
Japan opened its doors to foreign tourists in June under a series of strict rules including that visitors will have to take guided tours, be triple vaccinated, and have private medical insurance.
The Japan Times noted that foreign tourists who are visiting under the strict guided package tours are unhappy with the system. This has also resulted in a very small number of visitors to the country.
Though the latest announcement makes allowance for non-guided packaged tours, The Japan Times report says that the details of what is meant by a “packaged tour” was not made immediately clear.
Aim to boost Japan’s tourism economy
In any case, the 31 August announcement is the latest in a series of decisions Japan has taken in the recent months to ease its extremely strict COVID-19 rules and bring the country’s border measures closer to the systems in place in the Group of Seven nations — an aim that Kishida had revealed in May.
The easing of restrictions is, of course, designed to give a boost to Japan’sJapan’s ailing tourism industry. As per Bloomberg, while there were 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019, the figure was a mere 353,119 in 2021.
Earlier, on 24 August, Kishida announced that travellers to Japan who have been vaccinated with three doses will not be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result starting 7 September.
“We will continue relaxing these measures gradually,” Kishida had told the press at the time. “We hope to announce something soon based on the quarantine set-up and the situation with infections.”