Japan to allow foreign tourists in on package tours from 98 foreign countries, from June 10

The Japanese government announced on the evening of May 26th that it will resume accepting foreign tourists from 98 countries and regions on package tours, including the United States and China, starting June 10th. This was as reported by the Nikkei newspaper. Foreign tourists have been prohibited from entering Japan for more than two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The countries to be included are those where the infection situation is under control and where there is a low positivity rate at the time of entry. Tourists will be allowed to enter Japan whether or not they are vaccinated and will not be required to take a COVID test or to quarantine. However, people will be allowed in as tourists only for group travel for which domestic travel agencies are responsible for managing. Individual travel is not permitted.

On June 10th, Japan will start accepting visa applications for tourists coming in on tour groups. It is expected that it will take some time for tourists to actually enter the country.

International flights will also resume in June at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido and Naha Airport in Okinawa.

Prior to the resumption of group-based inbound tourism, on June 1st, Japan will start relaxing entry procedures, including inspections and quarantine rules.

Countries will be divided into three groups, blue, yellow, and red, in ascending order of coronavirus risk. The three-color classification chart is here.

Ninety-eight (98) countries and regions, such as the United States and China, are classified as “blue” and do not require testing at the time of entry or quarantine.

Ninety-nine (99) countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, are classified as “yellow” and do not require testing at the time of entry or quarantine, if the traveller has received three vaccinations.

Four countries, including Pakistan, are classified as “red” and travelers will have to be tested at the time of entry and undergo quarantine.

Sightseeing tours are limited to “blue” countries and regions, considered to have the lowest risk of spreading infection. For those entering from a “yellow” country or region, business travelers are exempt from testing at the time of entry, depending on their vaccination status; but people from “yellow” countries will not be allowed in for tourism.

It is expected that under these rules about 80% of people will not need to take a COVID test at the time of landing or to have to quarantine.

The Japan Tourism Agency started doing small groups on May 24th with tourists from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore as a trial toward the resumption of full-scale foreign tourism. Based on results from these tests, the government will create guidelines for travel agencies and inform them of things to keep in mind when conducting tours.

Starting June 1st, Japan will also raise the maximum number of daily entrants from the current 10,000 per day to 20,000. The policy is to allow both tourists and business travelers to enter the country within the upper limit. However, given that the number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2019 was about 32 million, the 20,000 per day cap means that there are still strong restrictions on foreigners entering the country.

Many advanced countries have eased COVID-19 restrictions after the peak of the Omicron variant. Until yesterday’s announcement, Japan was the only G7 country to refuse entry to foreign tourists.

Viewing tourism as a key driver of economic growth, Japan aims to attract up to 60 million foreign tourists in 2030.

Source: Nikkei newspaper, May 26, 2022 (in Japanese)

Lead image: iStock 1096310984