As part of the trial project to ‘test tourism’ that began in May 2022, the Japanese government announced new rules on 7 June, which tourists have to follow at all times on entering the island nation.
In the latest development, Channel News Asia reported that tourists have to wear masks, take out private medical insurance and have to be accompanied by travel agency guides throughout their visit to Japan.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), the first phase of tourists will be allowed from 10 June, and travel agents have to ensure that visitors wear masks and adhere to all safety protocols.
Here are more details for those visiting Japan
Who can enter Japan?
On 17 May 2022, JTA announced that as part of a trial project, the country will be accepting visitors from the US, Australia, Thailand and Singapore. The list has been expanded to include Britain, Spain, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Rules and safety protocols
The government had earlier said that visitors will be allowed to enter the country only if they meet all criteria set by the government. Those planning to travel have to take all three COVID-19 vaccination shots, purchase their own travel insurance and be a part of a package tour with a fixed itinerary. However, no specifications were made about wearing masks. Now, in addition to the aforementioned criteria, tourists will have to wear masks both indoors and outdoors.
The Channel News Asia report added that the JTA guidelines mention, “Tour guides should frequently remind tour participants of necessary infection prevention measures, including wearing and removing masks, at each stage of the tour.”
Last month, the government conducted test tours with about 50 participants who were mostly travel agents. Out of them, only one person tested positive.
Earlier, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that authorities are planning to open borders, like other countries, from June. In his speech in London, Kishida also said that he will first take stock of the COVID-19 situation in Japan post the Golden Week holidays in late April and early May.
According to a Bloomberg report, on 5 May 2022, Kishida said, “As soon as June, based on the opinions of experts, we will review coronavirus regulations, including border policies, in stages.”
Boost to Japan’s tourism sector
Japan’s tourism industry has been requesting the government to relax border restrictions and attract foreign visitors to take advantage of a weakened Yen, for a long time.
Before the pandemic, travellers’ footfall to the country had grown five times between 2011 and 2019. The Bloomberg report also mentions, “Several tourism-related stocks gained on the news. Japan Airlines climbed as much as 4.5 percent, while Japan Airport Terminal surged 6.8 percent. Travel agency HIS, a sector bellwether, erased a morning loss and rose as much as 2.7 percent.”
PM Kishida had only kept the borders open for students and business officials and had kept the daily inflow of foreign nationals to 10,000, which excluded tourists. Now, the government intends to increase the limit to 20,000 and accept tourists as well.
(Main and feature image credit: David Edelstein/ @jlhopes/ Unsplash)