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As of October 11, Japan will remove almost all of its remaining entry requirements and allow normal tourism. after more than 2.5 years of strict restrictions. During a press conference in New York on Thursday, September 22, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will remove the limit on daily arrivals. In addition, the country will allow individual tourists to enter without a visa, which will allow Americans to enter the country without having to go through the cumbersome process of obtaining a tourist visa.
a long time to come
Travelers have been keeping an eye on Japan as most of the world began reopening earlier this year. During that time, Japan made only tiny adjustments that allowed travel under very strict conditions. The country did not allow the entry of foreigners for tourism purposes until June 10. Even then, the restrictions placed on travelers willing to jump the hurdle of obtaining a visa were significant.
Travelers who wanted to visit Japan could only do so by booking with a tour operator. While in the country, they could not leave their tour group for any reason. Additionally, travelers were required to comply with any local regulations or instructions from their tour guide. Not the most exciting way to spend a vacation.. Unsurprisingly, tourism did little to recover under these restrictions.
The most recent rule change is good news for both international tourists and Japanese citizens. The Digital Minister, Taro Kono, voiced which is likely to be felt by many on Twitter along with the announcement. “FinallyJapan will reopen the border…”
Finally, Japan will reopen the border. The visa exemption returns, with no daily limit and free individual visits.
— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) September 22, 2022
What rules are still in force?
Traveling to Japan will be much easier on October 11, but there are still some restrictions. Specifically, visitors entering Japan will be required to have received three injections of a Covid-19 vaccine or take a PCR test prior to arrival. Fully vaccinated individuals will need to take a pre-departure test and will be able to travel to Japan as they did before the pandemic. The local government still strongly recommends the use of masks in certain situations, such as on most public transport. Travelers should bring some along for the ride, just in case.
Why the change?
Last week, Travel Off Path reported that Japan was considering easing restrictions this fall. The latest announcement by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirms this and marks October 11 as the fixed date on which the restrictions will be relaxed. The move comes after record lows for Japan’s currency. Compared to the strength of the US dollar, the yen is the weakest in 24 years.
Japan has been slow to reopen compared to other Asian destinations like Indonesia or Thailand, and is paying the price. Japan’s previous visa requirements and harsh travel restrictions have made the country virtually inaccessible to most travellers, leading to a sharp decline in tourism receipts. Japan received 31.88 million foreign visitors in 2019, setting a new record for itself. This year hasn’t seen numbers remotely close to 2019, and the country is eager to recapture tourism revenue.
How bad is it?
To show how little effect Japan’s attempt to “opening” for tourism in June this year had, consider the following statistics. In July this year, Japan welcomed some 144,500 international visitors. During July 2019, Japan received more than 3 million! In total, July 2022 showed 95.2% diminish in visitors compared to 2019. It is clear that Japan needed to take a few more steps to regain its position in the tourism sector, and the country finally decided to do so.
Welcome news for travelers
Before the pandemic, Japan was steadily increasing the number of visitors it received each year. Interest in the unique destination grew and the country seemed poised to continue breaking records. Japan’s outstanding natural beauty and distinctive architecture make for picturesque vacations, and many travelers have been waiting for today’s news for a long time.
In the words of Digital Minister Taro Kono, “Finally, Japan will reopen[!]”
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest news that will affect your next trip, visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current Travel Rules and Restrictions You can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Please contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before you travel. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government recommendations