Japan lifts its ban on foreign tourism and allows guided packages tours

TOKYO -- Japan opened its borders to foreign tourists on Friday.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
10 June 2022 Friday 13:59
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Japan lifts its ban on foreign tourism and allows guided packages tours

TOKYO -- Japan opened its borders to foreign tourists on Friday. However, only guided tour participants who are willing to wear masks and follow other anti-virus measures will be accepted. This is as Japan tries to balance business and infections.

Friday marks the start of the procedures required for entry. Arrivals are not expected before the end of June, although airport immigration and quarantine offices were available for any arrivals.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, tours are accepted from 98 countries and areas, including the United States of America, Britain, China and South Korea.

Japan's partial resumption in international tourism is being done under guidelines that were developed from an experiment which was conducted in May. The experiment involved approximately 50 participants, mostly employees of tour agencies from Australia, Singapore and Thailand.

One case involved a cancellation of a tour for four members when one participant tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Japan.

Participants are required to wear face masks all day and to have insurance in place to pay for any medical expenses if they contract Covid-19. Tour guides must be present during the entire tour. However, there is no limit to the number of participants in a group.

Japan relaxed its border controls earlier in the year after being criticised for being xenophobic. It doubled the daily entry limit to 20,000 people per day on June 1. This includes Japanese citizens and foreign students, as well as some business travelers.

For the moment, the daily limit will only apply to package tour participants. Officials say that it may take some time before foreign tourists can travel freely in Japan for individual tourism.

Japan's inbound tourism industry has been largely neglected since the outbreak. Even though Japan welcomes tourists to the country and allows them to spend, there are still concerns about infection, particularly in popular tourist areas.

Contrary to Western countries, mask-wearing is not widely accepted in most cases. However, many people still wear them, even when they aren't required.

Japan still reports more than 10,000 COVID-19 new cases per day, but the Tokyo number is less than 2,000.

According to the latest rules, masks can be worn on public transport, hospitals, and other public places. When others aren't around, or speaking loudly, people can take off their masks outside.

The popularity of package tours is unknown. Most foreign tourists have to apply for tourist visas, which can take several weeks. The yen has fallen to 20-year lows against USD and is weak against major currencies. This would make it a great deal to travel in this high-cost country.

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