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Travelers can now go to Japan but domestic tourists remain its focus

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After greater than two years of closed border policies, Japan is ready to welcome back international travelers this week.

Come June 10, foreign tourists traveling via packaged tours can enter Japan.

Nevertheless, the federal government’s priority still lies in boosting domestic tourism numbers, said Tadashi Shimura, president of Japan Association of Travel Agents.

Even before the pandemic, domestic tourism contributed much more to Japan’s overall gross domestic product than foreign tourism, in response to JATA.

Tourism numbers

Overall tourism contributed 28 trillion yen ($211 billion) to Japan’s economy in 2019, with nearly 80% — or 22 trillion yen — coming from domestic tourists, in response to a report by the Japan Tourism Agency.

Despite an increase in Covid cases in 2021, tourism spending from those living in Japan still managed to usher in 9.2 trillion yen that yr, JTA said.

Nevertheless, boosting international arrivals to Japan remains to be vital, especially for the heavily hit hospitality, transportation and travel sectors, said Shimura.

Japan welcomed about 32 million foreign visitors in 2019 and had been on course to attain its goal of 40 million in 2022, said Ejaz Ahmed, a research analyst on the Economist Intelligence Unit, during a webinar on June 1.

Nevertheless, the pandemic caused arrival numbers to plummet rapidly, and there have been only 250,000 foreign visitors in 2021, government data previously showed.

The lack of international travelers cost Japan “about 10 trillion yen over the past two years,” said Shimura, as spending from international students and long-term foreign residents brought in a median of 4.3 million yen per person per yr, he said, citing a report by Nomura Research Institute.

Travel agencies in Japan are gearing up for the return of tourists with packaged tours to famous destinations across the country.

All Japan Tours has six tour packages, including the “Golden Route Japan Tour” which takes participants on an eight-day tour around Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto for $2,698.

What are the principles? 

The every day cap on the variety of visitor arrivals — which incorporates Japanese nationals and returning foreign residents — doubled from 10,000 to twenty,000 on June 1, in response to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Local reports indicate the federal government may increase the limit to 30,000 people in July.

Still, Shimura said, those limits are too low, because the country used to welcome “140,000 [visitors] per day.”

Countries are classified into three categories — blue, red and yellow — and travelers could also be subjected to additional restrictions depending on where they’re coming from, in response to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Travelers from 98 countries and regions — including the USA, United Kingdom, Singapore and China — fall under the “blue” category and will not be required to check or quarantine on arrival or be vaccinated to enter.

Travelers from any of the 99 countries within the “yellow” category are also exempted from testing and quarantining upon arrival in the event that they have had three doses of an accepted Covid-19 vaccination. The category includes countries akin to India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Those coming from “red” countries, akin to Fiji, Pakistan and Sierra Leone, must test on arrival and quarantine for a period of three to seven days.

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