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Japan eases COVID-19 border controls but tourist surge doubtful

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Seems like Japan is specifically targeting the Chinese and geriatrics to spearhead their reboot of tourism. These are the only groups who by and large utilitize the form of travel currently available.

It won't be until uninhibited independent travel is available that Japan will start to see its allegedly sought after wealthier tourists spending their money in prefectures and towns other than the main sightseeing hotspots.

20 ( +29 / -9 )

Now the government has decided that tourists can travel without guides through "unaccompanied package tours," allowing greater movement than in the past, in dining choices and places to visit.

But they would still be forced to buy set-products that include airline tickets and lodgings, a restrictive and generally unpopular choice.

Let's see if this is good enough for some

9 ( +16 / -7 )

I am surprised that the super high cost country I first came to is now on par with Mexico as a low cost tourist destination.

3 ( +21 / -18 )

*...gun its economy...*

I'm not familiar with this colloquialism. Which country is it from?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

So much mendou in the processes.

I feel sorry for consulate staff worldwide. They are getting utterly inundated with demand! All because certain types can't sort out proper processes.

At least make electronic visas available if you want to keep visa requirements....

11 ( +17 / -6 )

...worldwide, that is.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Foreign tourism makes up only a tiny fraction of Japan’s GDP. Not big enough to “gun” the economy

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

government's decision to lower the entry bar remains restrictive, hampered by its continued caution over the coronavirus pandemic.'

Funny considering Japan has had the highest infection numbers in the world over the last few weeks.

Lol, the world is laughing at the uber-conservative dinosaurs in charge of this silver democracy. It could be worse though, at least Japan is not so stupid to adopt a zero-COVID policy like China.

Agreed.

-3 ( +17 / -20 )

Man at ¥144 to the dollar Japan is sure missing a potential cash cow.

However,like the dude earlier mentioned the geriatrics in charge of Japan are so slow to act it is bizarre!

5 ( +25 / -20 )

Border controls are being relaxed?

Not really.

It still depends on which country is the origin of travel which is nonsensical as being infected or not is the crux of the matter.

However, the political and economic and NOT medical scientific reasons are keeping people out.

The virus cares what color designation a particular country is ?

One is a solo traveler or in a group?

Farcical!

The basic premise for entry is the PCR test and not vaccination status although some thrice jabbed people do not require the PCR test to enter Japan.

So, presently, carriers of the virus are now entering Japan which makes a mockery of everything that Japan is or is not doing.

How to describe it?

A show?

A spectacle?

A circus?

Whatever it is, reality is not in the mix.

-6 ( +13 / -19 )

As long as we have that retarded group tour requirement, tourism will remain a trickle.

20 ( +27 / -7 )

Funny considering Japan has had the highest infection numbers in the world over the last few weeks.

Exactly. Have they conveniently forgotten this?

As soon as this occurred, suddenly there were calls to only report infections in certain groups like the elderly.

Like I said, I'd love to see Japan called out on their crap.

-4 ( +21 / -25 )

Japan once again showing they can’t evolve to meet worldwide standards of freedom and acceptance.

3 ( +27 / -24 )

So, Japan is basically playing games with people who know a lot more than you can ever imagine. Can't play international people Japan.

We are on to your funny stunts a long time ago.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

The relaxed entry restrictions and higher cap are probably meant to encourage travellers other than inbound tourists

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

With high coronavirus infections in Japan, why would tourists opt to visit Japan now anyway, and have to wear masks in the first place.

1 ( +19 / -18 )

Just get rid of all the travel restrictions and allow tourists unrestricted visa free travel - perhaps the only thing that makes any sense at this point would be a requirement for tourists to take out travel insurance that covers them in case of COVID.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Nowhere else in the world has the package tour rule that I can find.

How is it seen to prevent COVID spread?

12 ( +24 / -12 )

If you visit the same place too often, but still like visiting there, you don't care waiting for a year or so with restrictions, you wouldn't hate the place for ever. If you are just a tourist, you could change your destination to somewhere you feel similar due to such restrictions and if you are just a simple tourist, you sure would get bored with visiting same place in the same country. Not a big deal at all.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Kishida has nothing to attract foreigners. the old Japanese high-quality service is long gone!

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

With the yen so pathetically weak, japan is now a dirt cheap, bargain basement 3rd world country. What a lost opportunity to amass foreign tourist cash.

-1 ( +22 / -23 )

I'm living in Australia and pandemic.... What pandemic?

Try to spot someone wearing a mask!!!

Say a tripple vaccinated traveller or even a thousand arrived in Japan.... It's just not going to change Japanese case numbers. I wish they'd just get over these restrictions and open up.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

I. live in Japan. from 2011 to 10/2019. I went back home to prepare for a bad bush fire season which was already underway in the north of the Australia. A mate house and farm got ashed so I stayed longer to help him built a new farm shed. Then in March they closed the borders. I couldn't get a fight back home in time. So I been back home since. I had a partner then. I don't know things will work out once back. But I am not returning until the condition of entry is the same as per covid. I am looking at next spring at best.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

No one likes package tours, no one is coming until you remove this.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

2019: "Domestic travel including day trips and overnight trips by domestic residents accounts for nearly 80% of tourism".*

So much whining. You guys can spin all the "Oh Japan should be so embarrassed" narratives you want but foreign tourists aren't all that important. If you want to make a good argument that isn't solely based on "me and my hurt feelings and I can't visit the country that I want to :'( ", you could argue that tourism could help with the weak yen or that tourism doesn't pose a significant threat in terms of COVID-19 anymore.

Keeping out tourists was one of the factors that helped Japan achieve the lowest death rate out of the 38 members of the OECD. If you want to rescind border restrictions, you should at least try making good arguments. *https://www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/attractive_sectors/tourism/overview.html#:~:text=On%20the%20other%20hand%2C%20of,%25%20(See%20Figure%202).

-18 ( +4 / -22 )

Interesting that booking a.” hotel in advance through a tour package can reduce the chances you spread Covid. Always learning new things about this virus.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Thanks to Kishida and buddy Ukraine, Japan is one of the cheapest places to visit. $1=144. Great time to visit for autumn.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

No one likes package tours, no one is coming until you remove this.

now you don’t need a package tour, but must book through a travel agency. Personally suggest your itinerary.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

I am an airline’s employee and my Mrs (Japanese ) and I can’t use my staff travel.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

As a frequent visitor from Canada (until 2019) who never needed a visa, I'll leave Japan off my travel list for as long as its government wants to suck cash from me in the form of a pointless visa. There are dozens of other countries that are worth visiting that don't do that.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

This is fabulous news.!. Highly responsible people can enter the country with relative ease .!. Big $$$$ coming to a tourist attraction near you soon ! Opened up and moved on in line with most countries !

-26 ( +2 / -28 )

C. Flag , with his sneering about "whining people", appears to be out of date, and still locked into the Japanese paranoia about letting in foreigners. Japan may have kept numbers down earlier on, but that is not so now. Other countries have opened up without reporting significant zooms in their coronavirus numbers. Is he also sneering at the tens of thousands of (mostly) low-income Japanese who were financially dependent on the tourism industry, when he says the tourist industry is not important? I say "were", because many have lost their businesses altogether.

The link for the article he posted is inaccessible. I note, though, that it is written by JETRO, a government-affiliated organisation, so you can bet it has a spin on it towards the government policy.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Such a joke.

For someone that lives in the Midlands of England will need to spend about £80 to travel to London to apply for their visa and hand in their passport. £80 to go home again.

Then a week later another return trip to collect passport and visa plus £40 processing fee.

So £400 in (per person) get your visa before you start to even travel.

Problem is is that the Japanese Embassies are working on a limited appointment basis so getting a slot is almost impossible. Appointments for the 21st days ahead open at midnight and are all booked in seconds.

The Japanese government's policy is completely ludicrous. Meanwhile they enjoy their visa free holidays in Hawaii..!

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I got a visa by being married to a Japanese national and we're headed there next week for 2 weeks. When I applied for the visa, I had to fill out a spreadsheet declaring where I'll be every single day, and who I'll be with. I just wrote "in-law's house" for all 14 days. In reality, we'll be all over the place, multiple prefectures visiting friends, family, and ryokan/onsen. I wonder if the unguided package tour people will be able to fudge their itineraries like that.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If someone really wants to visit the most incredible country on earth, a few slightly unique and mildly irksome rules won't stand in their way. Let's go to Tokyo!

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

Triple vaxed, with what vaccine?

I am guessing you'll need to have had Pfizer or Moderna. But those would be the target Western tourists, who it is assumed will avoid Japan due to the requirement of using an approved travel agency.

This doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Japan may have kept numbers down earlier on, but that is not so now.

The number of cases doesn't really matter. Deaths and serious cases mattered and Japan kept those low.

Is he also sneering at the tens of thousands of (mostly) low-income Japanese who were financially dependent on the tourism industry

The tourist industry (80% dependent on domestic tourism) is doing pretty good these days. Hotels fully booked during the obon holidays. Look at hotel prices now if you don't believe me. You can keep telling yourselves that foreign tourists are important but that doesn't make it true.

The link for the article he posted is inaccessible. I note, though, that it is written by JETRO, a government-affiliated organisation, so you can bet it has a spin on it towards the government policy.

I read this part and that was actually the first time I sneered in real life.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

When the USD so strong to the very weak Yen, and you STILL can’t attract a hoard of USD holding tourists to come in………you’re definitely doing something wrong.

Do something different Japan. Learn to adapt and get ahead of the curve for once. Evolve.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

Been coming and going from Japan with less and less fuss each time.

Do I miss the noisy insensitive tourist groups?

No at all

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

In late 2008, financial crisis, strong yen, I was paid more than then US Sectretary of State, Condolezza Rice.

Now, with weak yen, I am down to less than half of it. The good thing is I have no spending outside of Japan.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Please inform the whole picture Japan: the Japanese tours operators are supossed to book the flights as well, however, they cannot do that, they cannot book flights from Europe or US. Meantime: European-based agencies cannot sell these „non-guided tours“ as well. Nothing is clear. Totally ridiculous!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If someone really wants to visit the most incredible country on earth

Then they wouldn't be coming here.

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

The problem is that foreigners do not FEEL that Japan is welcoming them!

They will not come, no matter how high the daily quota is raised.

2 ( +15 / -13 )

Block entry to every Japanese citizen into any other country unless they are triple vaccinated, have a visa and are not part of any guided group.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

The government also worries that a non-Japanese speaking tourist who suddenly falls ill may struggle to get appropriate care without someone knowing the language and the country's medical system

Just like the thousands of Japanese travelers currently holidaying all around the world at destinations where they do not speak the local language.?

Japanese Doctors have to learn English quite fluently. I also imagine that hotel staff in Japan would have no difficulty getting a tourist to hospital.

This is called satoku. Plain and simple.

0 ( +13 / -13 )

Such a backward country is Japan...Their citizens for example can travel to USA freely,,NO visa,,NO covid test, NO tour groups,,NO NOTHING...but for Me, an American,,Must obtain VISA as visa free was cancelled...I am NOT going to buy a ticket thru tour company and hotel arrangements....I want MY way, My freedom...So open up ..ONE of the last countries with such restrictions.....SAD..

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

The govt will probably go all out again on domestic tourism, gototravel gotoeat etc before opening fully to international tourism.

Nobody seems to get it, they don't want foreign tourists at this time.

Until the whole covid situation improves (a lot) they won't open up fully

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I spoke to a well known Japanese tourist company that is international, at their New York office, yesterday. I was told they AREN’T sure how this New Deal is going to work, so they’re NOT taking reservations yet, at ALL.

Yes, that’s an understatement, there’s no big flood of tourists going to happen, YET.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Spot on. All people I know who were hoping to come here this year have canned their plans indefinitely, with a few going to South Korea, and one couple going to Singapore, and the rest hitting Europe or other areas. They are not children and don't need or want to be babysat.

I also know more than a few expats here who wanted to go home to the US, Canada, and a couple of countries in Europe, but have canned those too, mostly due to the fact that the yen has sunk to 144 against the dollar and carriers have increased flights by a minimum of ¥40,000 from what they were last month, which was also an increase of about the same or more, and some expressing doubts they'd be able to get back in to Japan if they left.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

I can understand the frustration though. If one has been waiting a long time to go to Japan them probably has saved a ton of money waiting a long time.

And now that it's probably equal to a small fortune in Japan relatively, still can't go

0 ( +4 / -4 )

As ian says they don't want tourists back in Japan. On my last visit in the summer I hated it. Purely Japanese faces only outside and izakaya not friendly at all to the one foreigner wanting to eat and drink. But even if they did invite me in the scene was totally un-cosmopolitan in Tokyo.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

I’m not bothering with this mess, I’m spending my money on the new iPhone being released today

The trouble is, it’ll be too cold to lay on the beach @ Nominoe’ in Naha, by the time I come back, by the way, that was HIS / #1 Travel in New York telling me they won’t even take any reservations yet. ALL their other USA offices have CLOSED, due to lack of business, THEY told me that.

Something you’ll not likely hear about on here.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

My advice to those waiting for visa-free travel, don't wait up, apply for a visa now , and go asap.

The visa is actually an advantage to you because itblimits the number of tourists now.

Yen is at its lowest it's the perfect time.

If there's a time you'll be likely treated as a prince here it's now

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

If you wait till it's fully open then you'll just be one among the deluge

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Truly hopeless and reprehensible situation.

My brother and his family wanted to visit us in December here in Japan but there's no way they'll be let into the country. He planned to stay 14 days at hotels in four cities but now it looks like my family and his family will meet in Thailand for 2 weeks and spend all of our holiday money there amongst less discriminatory people and policies.

A lose lose situation for Japan.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

Of course it's also quite likely that you'll have an unwelcome experience , as TigersTokyoDome

shared (sorry to hear that btw).

Pick your spots well.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Details of “Kinship Visa” Entry

Close relatives of Japanese nationals and foreign permanent and long-term residents of Japan can now enter Japan provided they apply in advance.

https://www.insidekyoto.com/can-i-travel-to-japan-now

1 ( +3 / -2 )

As ian says they don't want tourists back in Japan. On my last visit in the summer I hated it.

I'm sorry to hear this, mate.

It's amazing if this is the case. Don't want tourists back? But the Japanese love a foreign trip and expect to go where they want?

No reciprocation, no empathy. Awful awful awful behaviour, Japan. Shame on you!

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

Bring back the visa waiver, and stop insisting people book package holidays, I know Japanese tourists love to be told where to go and what to do on holiday, but most other tourists do not. As for the ‘visa in five days’ guff, utter nonsense. It can take weeks to get an appointment at the Embassy in London, let alone the visa, and I pity anyone that lives elsewhere in the country and has to make at least two expensive trips to get it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There are no realistic flights from the US to Japan. Some airlines are only flying to Japan, with no return flights.

People are going to choose other destinations until Japan gets its act together.

In all honestly, Japan sounds dull with these restrictions and a cheap yen is not going to attract anybody over going where everybody else is having a good time

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

There is no incentive at all to travel to Japan too complicated and convoluted. The xenophobic old farts have seen to that !

1 ( +10 / -9 )

I live in the UK and have had 2 initial vaccinations followed by a booster. Within the next 8 weeks I will be getting the new type of vaccine that covers the Delta and Omicron variants along with the normal annual flu vaccination and yet I feel that I'm unwelcome to go to Japan. So once again I will rent a villa in Europe instead of travelling further a field.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I visited Japan 10 years in a row, but due to all COVID restrictions it’s just not of any interest to me, all though I love to visit again and as soon as possible. Cut it loose Japan we are not a disease!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I arrived back today. The Quarantaine procedures were still a huge a pain in the neck, with that almost 2km walk through the airport in Haneda. I have done it twice. To put it short: it is exhausting, humiliating and pointless. Nothing to do with health whatsoever. It is just an exercise in gaman. As usual. If you can hold it, stay away or go somewhere where they are actually welcoming.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

I am not a sheep and will continue to enjoy my tourism in a relaxed way as I wish.

Nothing has changed in Japan even though Yen is lower.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I have not been to Japan for 2 years now and am beginning to wonder if i will ever get to return. As a non vaccinated American the cards seem stacked against me and these so called easements will be of little help. My wife ( who is Japanese) and I recently sold our condo in Kobe because i have not been able to visit. As much as i love Japan it pains me to see the politicians in charge trying their hardest to match ours here in America for poor judgement! Hopefully all the restrictions will be lifted by the end of the year and normalcy will return!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I won't take the vaccine. Japanese family have to come to see me instead.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Package tour? No tourists

Guided tour? No tourists

Burdensome visa process? No tourists

Triple what? Vaccine? No tourists

Japan, come on and wake up. What you need? Free hugs? Really? Come here, I have plenty for you!

7 ( +12 / -5 )

if you can't open, just stay closed. Stop wasting everyone's time

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Lol! Interesting timing for me to see this article now. I literally just passed through customs in Haneda airport and am waiting on my connecting flight to Itami.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sad to see that they agreed on triple vaccination - possibly this might become a pre-requisite for free travel eventually as well.

I'm not going to get another shot just to be able to travel, that's so 2021.

Just open the borders. Everyone else is honoring prior visa agreements.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@ian

Now the government has decided that tourists can travel without guides through "unaccompanied package tours," allowing greater movement than in the past, in dining choices and places to visit.

But they would still be forced to buy set-products that include airline tickets and lodgings, a restrictive and generally unpopular choice.

Let's see if this is good enough for some

Perhaps some, but not experienced travelers. Much too restrictive to have to buy set-products for airline tickets and lodgings. It also sounds like they perhaps have set locations? I have traveled extensively through Japan many times. I want the freedom to choose where I can go, stay, and for how long. To me, travel restrictions just will prevent people from traveling to Japan. The numbers will speak for themselves if I am correct.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I have a hotel reservation for the end of October booked and the flight I want to take just waiting for me to purchase on Expedia. I'm just waiting on the government to say I can visit that way and I'll be there. (Otherwise I'll just cancel my hotel reservation in early October and go somewhere else.) Fingers crossed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@mu-da

The government has decreed that you endure that long walk to prove that you are fit to enter the country.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Why is it that vaccinated non tax-paying tourists don't have to submit a PCR test to get in but I as an unvaccinated tax-paying foreign resident am still required to re-enter? Total scam. I'm all in favor of making it easier for people to visit but just drop all rules already!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Perhaps some, but not experienced travelers.

Experienced travellers should have no problems navigating around these obstacles.

Personally, as I've said above, it's actually favorable to travel now because of the limits due to visa and hard cap.

People have been whining now for years they might as well whine for a few hours on the line to the immigration counter

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

The numbers will speak for themselves if I am correct.

The numbers are capped at 50k at the moment, the goal is to meet that number with as few tourists as possible.

People are saying they don't wanna attend a party they're not invited to attend

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If you're not willing to get the 3 vaccine jabs required by Japan, please do not come here.

It's their rules, not yours.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

A 50,000 daily cap, if they actually intend of having it exhausted, would mean ten times the number of visitors currently coming into Japan. I went through immigration last week, and while it was quite quick and painless on the "fast track", I really don't see the additional overhead at immigration working so well for ten times the amount of people.

But that's moot really, it is not going to happen anyway as long as you have to get a state-approved travel agency to vouch for you and then get a dedicated visa, with every embassy and consulate having slightly different processes, and the slim but present possibility of being denied a visa after you booked your flight to apply for the visa in the first place. As long as tourists have to jump through those hoops, tourism will remain a trickle. And they full well know it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

when can I go? want to use my staff travel and not a travel agent.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Considering their imminent invasion of Taiwan and their military posturing with Russia why would Japan WANT Chinese tourists here? You want to reward their governments behavior? May as well invite Russians here too..

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

who wants to come to Japan under these condition?

its hard to imagine for me...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If you're not willing to get the 3 vaccine jabs required by Japan, please do not come here.

It's their rules, not yours.

Covid vaccines are not required

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If you're not willing to get the 3 vaccine jabs required by Japan

I think all it means is that you would still need a test within 72 hours of returning to Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

america and eu should require visa's from japanese citizens for entry and force the same limited travel rules back at them.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hearing all these heartrending and harrowing accounts about tourists who cannot surge into Japan despite eased COVID-19 border controls including raising a daily cap on arrivals from 20,000 to 50,000 and the scrapping of negative COVID-19 test requirements, has moved my heart to tears.

Imagine, not being able to go on holidays because you have to apply for a visa which takes five days to be issued in principle with a cost of about 3,000 yen.

There is no end to this injustice.

Thoughts and prayers to all those affected.

Japan should open the country up and let in all the people who don't want to go to Japan anymore

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@kurispusu

hahaha. Upvote for your humor! Sure you are probably right... But after 49 years here, I am just tired of the pointless gaman stuff. I moved out of here when Corona hit and I'm back now for closure. Gotta life (elsewhere).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Comment from article "Travelers to Japan must apply for a visa, which takes five days to be issued in principle, and the fees for a single-entry visa are about 3,000 yen."

There is additional cost. To apply for a visa to Japan, you must apply for an ERFS first. These are not cheap. If you book your travel through a travel agent they supply this for you, for a fee. Ours cost 28,414 yen + additional 781 yen per day. Per person!!

Our country does not have the eVisa, so add another 11,717 yen for a visa through a visa agent.

Not a very fair or attractive deal for tourists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Today I returned to Narita from Seoul, with only carryon luggage. 20 minutes from landing to strolling towards the Skyliner ticket machines! It's even better than the old days because the immigration lines are so short :-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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