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Businesses pin hopes on foreign tourists as Japan set to reopen border

43 Comments
By Ayano Shimizu

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It would be much better for business to focus on things much more reliable and stable than tourism, but I guess the easy money that comes from this particular industry is too big a temptation.

0 ( +14 / -14 )

I wouldn’t be pinning my hopes on these tours as the ordinary shop owner won’t be seeing any of these tourists under the regimentation that is going on.

19 ( +23 / -4 )

I fear they've bet on the wrong horse because with the "style" of tourism Japan is allowing, they're not going to see much of an uptick in sales and profits. Aside from this "style" of tourism being quite unpopular - who wants to be shepherded around like kids on a field trip? - are the tourists even allowed to go to Asakusa, an area already teeming with locals? What are they going to do, clear the area of locals before allowing the tourist group to walk the area in order to not catch their cooties? I don't think J-gov thought this through properly...

13 ( +22 / -9 )

Im sure that nearly nobody is hopeful of much at all u til the rules change.

Once again, we in Japan are going to be embarrassed by the ridiculous out of touch “rules and regulations” that are much more to appease your (extremely elderly and xenophobic) voter base.

8 ( +19 / -11 )

Your right tire needs some air.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Just like Japanese tourism Flat

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Sadly only large commercial tourist spots will benefit because the organised tours being permitted only focus on those places.

My shop will not benefit nor will the others in my area which used to get a good portion of their income from small individual groups of 2 to 5 staying at a local hostel of Airbnb.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Then they should call the xenophobic policies in place today and ask the government to align with the rest of civilization.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

It’s just propaganda, Japan is opening to tourists? If they are part of a tourist group and pass the testing regulations. Want to go for a walk to experience the real Japan…not going to happen. They can’t have several glow stick men in quasi police uniforms surround you as you experience the real Japan. Not sure what the government is trying to achieve, but honestly I rarely am. It would seem they want to appear open but then place so many rules in the way it’s not really open.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

"...who wants to be shepherded around like kids on a field trip? 

Most tourists from Asian countries.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

What kind of border opening? This is an absurd farce !!! Do you really think that crowds of tourists will come? Do you think that a person will pay thousands of dollars to guard him like in North Korea? LOL NEVER !!!!

There are a few dozen people! This xenophobic approach does not pay off ugly for Japan. It is quite obvious that tourists do not want !! Look at the US those canceling PCR before departure! For me? JAPAN NEVER MORE !!!

I will definitely spend money in a country where I appreciate my presence and they will welcome me!

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

JGov embarrassing this great country again. Just put up a big sign “we need your money but we don’t want you to enjoy yourselves”.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Japan is opening shyte. Sorry. Tourists need a visa. The free visa is still not reintroduced. That is not convenient. And then tourists have to follow outdated rules. This will not work. Kishida, please decide what you want, either tourists and money or the fairytale of being tough. This gibberish of in between does and will not work.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

A rickshaw puller carries tourists near Sensoji Buddhist temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district on Friday

Great plan Kishida. Create more rickshaw drivers and retail clerks getting paid the minimum who will be laid off again if there s a disruption in international travel.

The only ones getting rich would be the investors, who would get bailed out yet again by the taxpayer.

Is this "New Capitalism" and wealth distribution?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Oh well, so much for your Hopes

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Is this "New Capitalism" and wealth distribution?

It's just Abenomics and neo-liberalism in a new coat.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Let's just hope this "guided tour" phase is as short as possible and proper tourism can resume in 2022, preferably around August, but by autumn at the latest.

I fear they've bet on the wrong horse because with the "style" of tourism Japan is allowing, they're not going to see much of an uptick in sales and profits. 

There is no money in doing things this way. I presume the objective is to placate chronic worriers and xenophobes who associate foreigners with Covid. A month or two of foreigners coming in with no explosion in Covid numbers should be enough dispel such people's fears. You cannot shut down part of the economy forever just because of Chicken Little. It really shouldn't need saying but accusing people of being unclean is not o-mo-te-na-shi.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

The number of foreign visitors to Japan marked a record 31.88 million in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak. Amid COVID-19 travel restrictions at home and abroad, however, the figure plunged to a record-low 245,900 in 2021.

More than two years on, and Japan still has not come up with a cohesive Covid strategy that would limit the numbers of those infected, and limit the economic impact. Hence, Japanese society is suffering still physically and financially.

Obviously China's zero covid strategy, which was mimicked by New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Vietnam et al, was the best policy Japan could have followed, as seen by the lowest infection numbers in those countries and economic recovery.

But anyway Ganbare Japan.

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

@virusrex

It would be much better for business to focus on things much more reliable and stable than tourism, but I guess the easy money that comes from this particular industry is too big a temptation.

So, what small business industries are more reliable and stable where there is money and opportunities during a pandemic since you are the expert? Japan economy lost roughly 49 billion USD from tourism the last two years. Starting a new small business or changing careers during massive worldwide shutdowns is extraordinarily difficult to say the least.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Obviously China's zero covid strategy, which was mimicked by New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Vietnam et al, was the best policy Japan could have followed, as seen by the lowest infection numbers in those countries and economic recovery.

The opposite is true, zero covid means economic sacrifices, and in the age of Omicron it is also unsustainable and uneffective, which is why countries that abandon it improve their economies, while keeping a controlled risk that comes from the infection without burdening the health system or having the same increase on deaths.

It is also impossible for countries with strong human rights protection to do something that completely depends on trampling on them as China is doing. Not every county can have the luxury of letting people die because of lack of access to hospitals just so it can hide the total number of covid deaths (and none should consider this something positive and that should be done).

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So, what small business industries are more reliable and stable where there is money and opportunities during a pandemic since you are the expert? 

More reliable and stable than an industry that dried up almost completely? most of them but specially grocery stores, delivering, games, fitness, technology, perifery health services, etc.

tarting a new small business or changing careers during massive worldwide shutdowns is extraordinarily difficult to say the least.

So it is to continue with a business that don't have enough costumers to get out of the red. This is not like people had one week to think about changing lines and things go back to normal.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Well at least Japanese people aren't being locked down like those in Shanghai, who this weekend is going through a third complete lockdown of the city.

Reuters also reported that HK is going to have over a thousand officials in a closed loop quarantine (like the Winter Olympic) in preparation for Xi's visit. Imagine not being able to see your family for weeks, even months.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Elvis is hereToday  08:51 am JST

You still haven't answered my simple question for weeks ago.

I'll have to check my notes on that.

Don't feel hurt though if I can't find your specific question.

Shangers economy is a mess. Lol.

I will be sure not to invest in Shangers.

Thanks for the tip. Lol.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

a stronger recovery in inbound tourism will have to wait until after the election expected on July 10.

As will any economic recovery, especially by the tourism industry. Reap what you sow.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Good luck with that! A few Nikkeis and the odd manga nerds who don't mind being chaperoned to the toilets and watched every breath.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Feels like there is gonna be a lot of scummy deals going on with these guided tours, relatives and high bidding brands are going to get exclusive access to these tourists. Since they might have little say in where to go, they are gonna be guided to the stores of the highest bidders. Where that money goes we can wonder.

If anyone is wondering who would come with these kinds of restrictions? basically all people in Asia, some even prefer this style of traveling.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

......"Its spokesperson, Jeremiah Wong, told the BBC that inquiries have been "streaming in exponentially" since Japan's reopening was announced...........""

1 the first day, then 2 the second day, then 4, then 8......*
-3 ( +0 / -3 )

On one hand, there's: the visa requirement, the "approved" tour packages, with "approved" foreigner minders, the predetermined places one can visit or not, when and for how long, all tucked into a smug patronizing "omotenashi" attitude that "foreigners need to be guided by Japanese in order to ensure 'safe' visits to Japan".

On the other hand, there's this type of "opening": "A Biden administration official said, “Today, the Administration is announcing an important update: CDC will no longer require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for U.S.-bound air travelers, effective Sunday, June 12th at 12:01 a.m. ET.”

The official said that “CDC has determined based on the science and data that this requirement is NO LONGER NECESSARY at this time. CDC will do a reassessment of this decision in 90 days, and as with other policies, CDC will continue to evaluate it on an ongoing basis.”

Meanwhile, Japanese walk down completely empty outside streets, with no one within 100 meters of them...still wearing masks. Still living in petrified fear, and in a culture of all-encompassing conformity well beyond its utility. hmm...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

the backwards way the government is doing this, there is NO WAY businesses will profit from foreign visitors.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Again and again and again is Kyodo just re-hashing the same figures without much background explaining them or the situation around them.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan marked a record 31.88 million in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak. Amid COVID-19 travel restrictions at home and abroad, however, the figure plunged to a record-low 245,900 in 2021.

...

Before the pandemic, Asakusa had seen a boom in hotel openings and many expected a rush of overseas visitors in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled for 2020 during which the Japanese government aimed to welcome 40 million foreign visitors.

And we could already see back in 2018 that the glut of tourists instead of being spread all over Japan was just limited to a very few selected locations.

https://statistics.jnto.go.jp/en/graph/#graph--inbound--prefecture--ranking

We have all seen Kyoto, from one end of the city-limits to the other end, being overrun by tourists who were most likely to not have that much of a "great experience" being squeezed and stepping on each other's feet.

Tourists who had a positive travel experience will become positive advocate of the destination when back in their country. Those who didn't, well, won't...

In return, did Politicians only vow to increase even further the amount of tourists to insane-level without

(1) any explanation on how they were to achieve this besides the Olympigs and

(2) without any strategy on how to make all prefecture benefit from the influx and

(3) without any strategy on how to have the most popular locations deal with not only future but also current over-tourism

"The impact will be much smaller compared with when Japan welcomed more than 31 million people. But accepting inbound tourists in stages is the first step toward further relaxing the border measures" and is a very important development for the economy, he said.

If there is one thing that the COVID-crisis taught us, it is that tourism is a terribly fickle industry: sickness (we're still not out of COVID, Monkeypox may be a thing to watch out for and after SARS, MERS and COVID is it just a matter of time until the next pandemic), economy (the world economy is currently tanking!), natural disaster (which Japan is prone to, what do you think would happen in case of the Kanto "Big One"?), war (the potential for war over Taiwan looms and is being unabashedly waved around by...J-politicians), man-made disasters, etc.

Keiji Kanda, a senior economist at the Daiwa Institute of Research, said given that inbound tourists before the pandemic spent about 150,000 yen on average during their stay in Japan, the economic impact "cannot be underestimated."

And if you look at it, did the increase in spending by tourists start in 2015...

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1154846/japan-tourism-expenditure/

...which was the year the 爆買い (bakugai or "explosive buying") by Chinese tourists started.

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%88%86%E8%B2%B7%E3%81%84

Chinese households have seen their finances clobbered by COVID as well. As such, I would expect less of that for the time being even if the Chinese begin to travel again.

Luckily, tourism is not the only thing that Japan can leverage from but if you look at the last 10 years has Japan being betting the land, the barn, the machines, the livestock, the farm on:

.crypto-currencies (remember how Japan wanted to become a crypto-powerhouse?) The current situation between a risk-averse population, current headwinds if not chaos in the industry, the lack of regulations and droves of operators leaving the country when the government even mentioned the possibility to inntroduce a regulatory framework tells you everything you need to know where this is heading.

.casinos and gambling, a project were corruption was ripe and where the J-gov was betting on a set of locations which are currently limited to only 2 with even the Osaka one having difficulties to budget their project, or that the J-gov was all about aiming for foreign tourists before then discussing only about how to identify nationals accessing the venues also tells you everything you need to know where this is heading.

.white elephants such as the Mitsubishi jet which crashed and burned due to (amongst other issues) a patent infringement from Canadian manufacture Bombardier, the Linia maglev-train which has been deriled by J-experts in: trade as a "non-seller" to foreign countries due to a ridiculous price-tag, in infrastructure experts as "non-necessary" due to an adequate coverage of Shinkansen-lines, in finance as impossible to become beneficiary unless...selling tickets at prices that nobody can pay and in environment as having a destructive footprint in several locations it goes through.

.national military industry which is pretty much dead and buried but which can expect to have tons of cash thrown at them.

.tourism, a fickle and low-end industry which before being clobbered by COVID was already in overheating.

Long story short: Japan has been going for only shiny, cool quick cash-grab projects and offers no long-term idea, strategy or vision and as such has been standing like a deer in the headlights for 3 decades...

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Allowing people to enter only with a visa isn’t going to encourage floods of western tourists, it needs to be on the same basis as it was before Covid..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This will become another "Abe Mask"

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japanese government banned tourists from overseas due to COVID-19, Fuji said

You didn't banned tourists, you banned non Japanese. People with PR's and spouse visas couldn't even come into the country.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

And there you have it ! I’d like to thank the vast majority of highly responsible residents of Japan for getting us closer to this day ! We’ve been through 2.5 yrs of restriction free times . So I applaud the jgov for their scientific approach to the task at hand ! I for 1 am very happy that the end of corporate welfare payments will be coming to an end! We the tax payers have been propping up the tourism industry long enough! I noticed a word missing from the story was “bankruptcy,” why ?

”All of the small businesses here have endured the pandemic and they have all been waiting for this. We have been preparing for this," said Shigemi Fuji, head of the Asakusa Tourism Federation.”

The “why” is in the story…. If any business big or small closed their doors forever, it was their choice ! Yet the oft repeated patently false statements from many foreign residents here is that the jgov was killing the tourism industry. Yes … they were getting killed with cash …. And all this whining still about “guided tours” is more fact free propaganda. Here’s some more propaganda, I suspect these sound scientific rules are based on easily attainable facts and observations by the jgov. They know precisely which residents are and are not vaccinated. They have clearly seen who the anti masks…. Wait … anti almost everything thing crowd have been in Japan. News flash…. It’s not the Japanese citizens…. So if you’re looking for someone to properly blame , grab a mirror! Take a good hard look! So here we are …. We’ve never had any real restrictions…. And the 1st time the jgov comes up with rules …. Based on actual science…. The minority is whining…. Still! Time to move on …. Open up…. And that’s what is safely going to happen!

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Not worth the trip and having to be subjected to harsh restrictions. I

If JGov is betting on this plan working for them, I would suggest they think again.

Despite the Yen being high right now, it will not persuade would-be travelers to visit a country and splurge when having multiple restraints placed upon their freedom not to mention being led around like a dog on a leash with a muzzle.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Japan experience is a web site for booking these so called prison tours, its on utube

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is a political move, and will probably be successful. Kishida gets to tell the public and the foreign press “We’re doing something, tourists can come!…just read the fine print.” At the same time the LDP’s aged xenophobic voter base will be reassured that the nasty gaijin will be carefully muzzled, monitored, and kept away from the public. I fully expect that restaurants and stores will be cleared of other customers, and the tourists will shop and eat surrounded by a dozen silent masked staff staring at them the entire time to make sure they don’t move to push their masks aside any more than necessary. After which the store or restaurant will close for cleaning.

I have a friend who was thinking about visiting Japan this summer if it was open, but no way will he pay for a Koryo Tours experience.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Credit should be given where due. The per capita death rate in Japan is really low. But the recent variants are mild. I hope Japan opens up fully and drops mask mandates.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

You didn't banned tourists, you banned non Japanese. People with PR's and spouse visas couldn't even come into the country.

And some of us will never forget that. No other country did that - they either banned tourists or everyone.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I told family and friends thinking of coming here not to bother... at least not for now. If they can't come and visit me and spend time and stay at my place because it's not part of the package tour and they would need a paid Japanese guide, why bother? No one in the world likes Japanese tours except Japanese, and once again they've found a way to hold people hostage and tell them what they SHOULD want... or MUST want if they want to enter the country. And we all know what places like Kyoto were like when tourism was at its peak before Covid -- the mayor telling the world he didn't want foreign tourists and Kyoto was not a place for tourism, etc. Now he is demanding to be part of the package tours and for tourists to experience "Kyo's unique four seasons" (no joke, I've heard that before!) and eat Kyo-yasai, which is of course the best in the world and foreign tourists unworthy of. That's the prevailing attitude. Take the money, then show them the door. Not worth it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

More reliable and stable than an industry that dried up almost completely? most of them but specially grocery stores, delivering, games, fitness, technology, perifery health services, etc.

So it is to continue with a business that don't have enough costumers to get out of the red. This is not like people had one week to think about changing lines and things go back to normal.

Do you have any experience trying to start a business let alone trying to start a business with no experience in? Direct experience and knowledge in industry is crucial to survive and even that may not be good enough. 9 out of 10 startup business fail and those are the stats in no pandemic. Extremely hard to just startup a new business.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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