Japan to resume accepting foreign tourists on June 10: Kishida
TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Japan will resume accepting foreign tourists from June 10, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday, as the country continues to ease its COVID-19 border controls, Kyodo reports.
Kishida's announcement was made during an international event in Tokyo and came ahead of Japan's move to double the current cap on daily entries to 20,000 from next Wednesday. To reduce the potential spread of infections, tourism arrivals will initially be limited to guided tour groups.
The government's decision will set the stage for reviving inbound tourism for the first time in about two years. Still, relaxations will be implemented in stages and it will likely take time to again see a large number of foreign tourists, who were once key for Japan's economic growth.
Kishida also said international flights to and from the Naha and New Chitose airports, gateways to popular tourist spots in Okinawa and Hokkaido, will restart in June.
Since Tuesday, the transport and tourism ministry has been inviting travel company employees from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States for small-scale test tours of Japan.
By running the tours, the ministry aims to improve precautions against COVID-19 and confirm procedures to follow in the event visitors test positive for the coronavirus.
The ministry has compiled guidelines for accommodation facilities and other tourism businesses, and plans to call on inbound visitors to take anti-virus measures such as wearing masks, officials said.
In 2018, Japan welcomed more than 30 million inbound tourists. But the country has closed its borders to foreign tourists since the early stage of the pandemic in 2020.
In February of that year, the number of foreign visitors plunged 58.3 percent from a year earlier, further sliding to a record 99.9 percent drop from April onward.
In response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus, Japan effectively banned the entry of nonresident foreign nationals in November last year.