Japan announced its plan to abolish its daily arrival cap and allow visa-free, independent tourism starting Oct. 11. The decision marks a major change after the country has kept its borders closed for nearly 2.5 years due to the pandemic. Currently, the daily visitor cap to Japan is 50,000, but this cap will soon no longer exist.
On Oct. 11, individual international travelers can enter the country without having to be part of a tour group. Accompanying Japan’s opening of its borders, the country also announced plans to introduce discounts for domestic travel, as well.
“We will lift the ceiling of the number of entrants into Japan, lift the ban on individual travel and lift the ban over visa-less travel,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “On the same day, we plan to launch a campaign to offer domestic travel discounts and event discounts to residents of Japan and hope that many citizens will take advantage of the offer to support the hotel, travel and entertainment sectors that have suffered enormous blows during the pandemic.”
The discounts and increase in tourism will boost Japan’s tourism industry, which took a big hit from the pandemic. The yen, Japan’s currency, dropped to its lowest point in nearly 25 years, making it another reason for tourists to visit Japan. Discounts on travel, theme park prices, sporting events and concerts serve as a travel incentive. Japanese residents and citizens will be eligible for a 11,000-yen ($77) subsidy.
Japan saw a record 31.88 million foreign travelers visit Japan in 2019. In 2021, the country saw only 250,000 enter the country due to closed borders. According to Japan National Tourism Organization, 120,400 international travelers entered Japan in June 2022, a 1,000 percent increase compared to 2021, but a 95 percent decrease compared to 2019.
A few days before the announcement of Japan’s borders opening, Fumio said, “People around the world have been asking ‘when can we travel to Japan. Now, I hope they’ll make plans to visit Japan and get a taste of Japanese cuisine.”
According to the Japan External Trade Organization, Japan took in about $46.1 billion from foreign tourism in 2019 alone. In June 2022, the Japanese government changed border rules, allowing tourists who agreed to participate in guided tours booked through travel agencies to enter the country. In September, the government altered the rules again, but there was still no sign of opening its borders.
Chinese visitors account for nearly 20 percent of Japan’s inbound traffic, and China’s strict COVID-19 policies still have an effect on Japan’s tourism industry, even after borders open to individual, international travelers.
Are you planning a trip to Japan now that its borders are opening? What are you most excited to experience in Japan? How has the pandemic affected your travel plans over the last two years? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.
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