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Japan to resume tourism in June, but only for package tours

Japan will resume tourism in June, with tourists from 98 countries, including Britain, the US, Australia, France and Spain, as long as they are on a package tour.

  • Japan to expand number of airports accepting international flights to seven
  • It will be some time before visitors can come to Japan for individual sightseeing.
  • Foreign tourist arrivals in Japan fell by more than 90% in 2020

Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since it imposed strict pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but for now only for package tours.

Starting June 10, Japan will allow the entry of package holiday tourists from 98 countries and regions, including Britain, the United States, Australia, France, Spain, Canada and Malaysia.

Japan will also expand the number of airports that accept international flights to seven, adding Naha in southern Okinawa prefecture and New Chitose near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.

Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since it imposed strict pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but for now only for package tours.  In the image, Mount Fuji in Japan.

Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since it imposed strict pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but for now only for package tours. In the image, Mount Fuji in Japan.

All arrivals must test negative before traveling to Japan and many must be retested upon arrival, although triple-vaccinated individuals coming from certain countries may be able to skip additional testing, as well as a required three-day quarantine for others.

Japan is hosting this week experimental small tour packages from four countries: Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. That experiment, involving only 50 people who received special visas, not tourist visas, will end on May 31.

“The free and active exchange of people is the foundation of the economy and society as well as the development of Asia,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech at a Tokyo hotel on Thursday.

Japan, while watching the infection situation, will gradually accept more tourists in stages at the level of arrivals before the pandemic, it added.

After facing criticism that its strict border controls were xenophobic, Japan began easing its restrictions earlier this year and currently allows in up to 10,000 people a day, including Japanese citizens, foreign students and some business travelers.

Japan will double the limit to 20,000 a day in June, which will also include package tour participants, said Makoto Shimoaraiso, a cabinet official in charge of anti-pandemic measures.

Starting June 10, Japan will allow the entry of package holiday tourists from 98 countries and regions, including Britain, the United States, France, Spain, Canada and Malaysia.  Above is a photo of the Tokyo sunset.

Starting June 10, Japan will allow the entry of package holiday tourists from 98 countries and regions, including Britain, the United States, France, Spain, Canada and Malaysia. Above is a photo of the Tokyo sunset.

The scale of the package tours and other details will be finalized after officials assess the results of the current experimental tours, it said.

It will be some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for individual tourism, Shimoaraiso said.

This week, Japan also eased requests to wear masks. While masks are still required on public transportation, in hospitals and other public facilities, people can remove their masks outdoors where other people aren’t around or talking. Despite the relaxation, most Japanese are so far seen wearing masks in public.

Japan’s tourism industry, hit hard by border controls, is eager for foreign tourism to resume. Covid-19 infections have slowed in Japan since the beginning of this year and the government is gradually expanding social and economic activity.

Kishida said during a visit to London earlier this month that he planned to ease border controls from June in line with the policies of other industrialized Group of Seven countries, but gave no further details.

Foreign tourist arrivals fell more than 90 percent in 2020 from a record 31.9 million the previous year, nearly wiping out the pre-pandemic inbound tourism market of more than four trillion yen ($31 billion/ £24.5 billion).

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