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

After more than two years of a closed border policy, Japan is expected to welcome international travelers again this week.

From June 10, foreign tourists traveling via tour packages will be able to enter Japan.

However, the government’s priority still lies in increasing the number of domestic tourists, said Tadashi Shimura, president of the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

Even before the pandemic, domestic tourism contributed far more to Japan’s overall gross domestic product than overseas tourism, according to JATA.

Tourism figures

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, according to a report by the Japan Tourism Agency.

Despite an increase in Covid cases in 2021, tourism spending by people living in Japan still managed to bring in 9.2 trillion yen that year, JTA said.

Nonetheless, increased international arrivals to Japan are still vital, especially for the badly affected hospitality, transport and travel sectors, Shimura said.

Japan welcomed around 32 million foreign visitors in 2019 and was on track to reach its target of 40 million in 2022, Ejaz Ahmed, research analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in a webinar on May 1. June.

However, the pandemic caused the number of arrivals to drop rapidly and there were only 250,000 foreign visitors in 2021, according to government data.

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

Travel agencies in Japan are preparing for the return of tourists with organized trips to famous destinations across the country.

All Japan Tours offers six 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 rules?

The daily cap on the number of visitor arrivals – which includes Japanese nationals and returning foreign residents – doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 on June 1, according to Japan’s National Tourism Organization.

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

Still, Shimura said, those limits are too low, as the country hosted “140,000 [visitors] per day.”

Countries are classified into three categories – blue, red and yellow – and travelers may face additional restrictions depending on where they are coming from, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Travelers from 98 countries and regions – including the US, UK, Singapore and China – fall under the “blue” category and are not required to test or quarantine upon arrival or be vaccinated to enter.

Travelers from any of the 99 countries in the “yellow” category are also exempt from testing and quarantine upon arrival if they have received three doses of an accepted Covid-19 vaccine. The category includes countries like India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

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

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