The Japanese government is considering reopening its borders to a limited numbers of foreign tourists this spring. As well as helping to ease the burden on Japan’s economy, it’s also viewed as a practical test, as the country starts its preparations for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics that are to begin next year. However, any inward-bound tourists will have to undergo restrictions and procedures that are designed to keep both travelers and citizens safe.
Welcoming Foreign Tourists
Japan, like many countries around the world at present, has all-but closed its borders to the world. Entry into the country as a foreigner or non-resident is extremely difficult and restricted. As Asia’s third most-visited country, this has had a severe economic impact on the country, with many industries feeling the strain from a lack of tourists and several businesses having to close. However, the news that they are considering welcoming foreign tourists into the Land of the Rising Sun shows that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Japan is the host nation of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, which have been moved to next year, 2021, because of the devastating impact of the global pandemic. The decision to allow foreign tourists in to Japan is motivated largely by the games, as the government wishes to assess its current antivirus measures that it has in place for the events. According to a senior government official, Japan is concerned about whether or not it will be able to hold the events if the virus spreads further due to the arrival of foreign tourists.
However, whilst it is a positive step towards normality, the country will not be allowing tourists from all countries in the world to enter yet. The groups being considered for entry are only those from countries that have kept the coronavirus outbreak relatively contained. Countries such as Taiwan and China are among those expected to be given priority to enter Japan.
Those who do enter the country would only be able to do so on special tours, arranged with several anti-Covid-19 precautions in mind. Such precautions include traveling on specially chartered vehicles as a tour group, and being kept separate from other foreign groups to avoid large crowds. Should these trial tours go smoothly, it will be the first step in reopening the country further following the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Covid-19 in Japan
Currently in its “third wave”, the spread of Covid-19 in Japan continues to worsen. The rate of cases has grown rapidly throughout November, with the country now having reported over 150,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.
Several prefectures in Japan, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, have ordered some alcohol-serving food establishments to close early, whilst other prefectures have warned its citizens against travel to virus hotspots such as Tokyo and Osaka.
Despite the rise in cases, the Japanese government has moved to extend its own domestic travel subsidy scheme for a further five months, as the country looks to support the economy. The scheme, which is valued at $13 billion, sees citizens of Japan receive a 35% discount on hotels and tours, and added discounts on dining and shopping.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories