From June 2022, Japan will ease restrictions on tourists’ entry into the country, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on 5 May.
According to Fuji News Network (FNN)Government officials make sure to allow tourists who have undergone three Covid-19 vaccination shots.
They also need to be part of a package tour with a fixed itinerary. This consideration is for travel agencies and others to be better able to handle the influx of tourists.
The limit for incoming tourists will also be raised from the current 10,000 to 20,000, Nikkei Asia reported.
However, this will be monitored and if the Covid-19 situation remains stable, the program will be extended to more tourists.
Not all locals welcome tourists back to Japan
But some of the population is not looking forward to welcoming tourists back, CNBC reported.
In 2019, before the pandemic, Japan welcomed 32 million tourists, resulting in “over-tourism” in some places.
Dai Miyamoto, founder of the Japanese travel agency Japan Localized, said that in a city rich in culture like Kyoto, there were many foreign tourists in the city who were rude to the locals and spoke loudly.
The locals have therefore become appreciative of the “silence” that has returned, he added.
Miyamoto was repeated by Lee Xian Jie, the chief developer of another travel company, Craft Tabby, who emphasized that “many people” were quite upset about the over-tourism in Kyoto.
These people have now become appreciative of the current situation, he added, “it feels like what Kyoto was like 20 years ago – the good old Kyoto”.
The New York Times further cited a survey conducted by Japanese media NHK who said that over 65% of those surveyed either approved the current border measures or considered that they should be strengthened.
Japan’s travel companies have switched to domestic tourism
Miyamoto was also quoted by CNBC like saying that many of Japan’s travel agencies have engaged in domestic tourism, with few Japanese traveling abroad.
These travel agencies now cater to the domestic demand for outdoor experiences such as camping and onsen visits.
According to Japan Tourist OfficeEven before the pandemic, domestic tourism consumption in Japan surpassed international tourism.
In 2019, domestic tourism consumption amounted to 21.9 trillion yen (S $ 237 billion).
In comparison, the consumption of international visitors reached 4.81 trillion yen ($ 52 billion) for the same year.
In addition, given that foreign tourist spending contributes to less than five percent of Japan’s total gross domestic product, it is not surprising that the government has prioritized other industries and that borders have remained closed, Shintaro Okuno, partner and chairman of business consulting firm Bain & Company Japan, was quoted as said.
CNBC noted that not all Japanese share the feelings of keeping tourists out.
Several profiles interviewed in Tokyo said the government should ease the rules to allow more foreigners and normalcy to resume.
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