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Travel To Japan May Soon Be Almost Back To Normal

by SharonKurheg

Japan has been the outlier in countries that relied on tourism previous to the pandemic. They kept their doors closed for months longer than other countries. Even when they cracked the travel gates open, getting into the country was limited – you could only go for business purposes or via tours, there were testing requirements, you had to get a visa, etc.

However ever since reopening, nearly every month, Japan has scaled back some of its rules. More often than not, it was just increasing how many visitors could enter the country on a given day. Effective this month, they dropped testing requirements for those who were vaccinated and boostered (boosted? If you had gotten at least one booster shot 😉 ). But now there’s a possibility that Japan may drop not one, not two, but three factors impeding leisure travel into the country:

End of tourist visas

Reuters is reporting that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may approve waiving their current visa requirements from some countries, including the United States (the E-visa requirements are new. Before Covid, U.S. passport holders were able to enter Japan with visa waivers). Japan Times further reports the exemption may be allowed if potential visitors have been vaccinated three times or submit a pre-arrival test result.

No more travel agent requirements

Every since Japan opened to limited tourism, they required visitors to make their reservations via travel agents and be part of tour groups throughout their stay. Since September 7, visitors still needed to book through travel agents but didn’t have to stay with tour groups all the time.

It’s been mentioned that these more flexible tours offered by travel agencies, that only include flights and hotels, can be booked just as easily by individuals. So Japan is now looking at again allowing individual travelers to visit without travel agency bookings.

Drop daily caps on arrivals

This has been less of a headache for would-be travelers, but Japan is also strongly considering dropping its cap on daily visitors, perhaps effective by October, as per Fuji News Network.

The partial reason for this change of heart may be financial.

“Amid the weakening yen, inbound (tourism) will have the greatest effect” on the economy, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said. He also noted that fall is famed as being a good time for eating in Japan. “And there are the autumn leaves and powder snow. There are many foreign visitors who want to come visit Japan.”

The Kishida administration has been shifting its virus policies toward a “living with COVID-19” phase, in an attempt to control the spread of infections but at the same time boost the economy. Last week, the yen fell to a 24-year low of ¥144 to the dollar.

Japan is expected to announce its plans for tourism later this week.

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