Despite significant reopening news throughout Asia, Japan has remained a widely known holdout in the pursuit of reopening tourism. Spoiler alert: the country is still considering expanding the number of visitors that it will allow back into the country. It’s still not tourism as it once was.
In spite of this, things are continuing to move in a “positive” direction, and by that, I mean towards more opportunity for people other than citizens, residents or special visa holders to enter.
It’s A Slow Grind Forward…
Japan has remained incredibly strict when it comes to allowing entry for general tourism, placing it among the most restrictive in the world. Currently, the daily limit on tourists is 20,000, but in a positive twist, Bloomberg is reporting that the country is considering raising the number to as much as 50,000.
Prior to COVID, Japan had seen a record number of visitors in 2019, so the increase would be the next step toward restoring growth in the tourism industry — once a staple of the country.
Technically, Japan “reopened” to foreign visitors a few months ago, when it began allowing 20,000 people per day in, but the list of requirements was (and really, still is) dizzying.
Ranging from needing to buy all your tickets through a special travel agent on a “fully guided package tour” to having zero access to “local” encounters, it’s really somewhat disingenuous. If you want in, you must relinquish all spontaneity.
Mandatory retesting in Japan and quarantine rules further complicate your trip. You can find a full list of the current restrictions here, but be prepared for a long afternoon of reading.
Bloomberg also noted that this would begin what’s described as a “gradual easing of testing requirements,” which could significantly advance the rate at which travelers are able to return.
Needless to say, the entire tourism industry, particularly hotels and airlines, are anxious for that significant day. And for those of you visiting from the United States, your money is that much more valuable. The current exchange rate of 137 yen to the dollar is the best it’s been in almost 25 years.
Japan is a fabulous country to visit, so it may be time to start looking again.