Japan reopens to tourists, after two years, but with caution

For the first time in more than two years, Japan will resume accepting foreign tourists from four countries (United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore) this month in the form of a very supervised experiment, announced Tuesday. the government.

These tourists will visit the archipelago as part of organized trips: they will be accompanied by official guides and will follow routes fixed in advance. They must also have received three vaccine doses against Covid-19 and have taken out private medical insurance, according to a press release from the Japanese Tourism Agency.

Japan had closed itself to foreign visitors from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and only recently began to lift its border barriers.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is keen to reopen the country more widely, but must navigate Japanese public opinion, which is still overwhelmingly reluctant on the issue.

Since March, the country has again been accepting business travelers, students and foreign workers in particular, but with restricted entry quotas – 10,000 people per day currently. However, this ceiling should double from June, according to local media.

Japan has so far continued to ban foreign tourists, while other countries that had also adopted drastic barriers to entry (Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, etc.) have reopened in recent months. .

The current requirements to present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before flying to Japan and to be tested again once arriving in the country will also apply for foreign tourists expected this month. , said the Japan Tourism Agency to AFP, adding that their number was not yet defined.

Before the pandemic, Japan increasingly relied on tourism to support its economy. In 2019, it had welcomed 31.9 million foreign visitors, a new record, and was aiming for the 40 million mark in 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics were originally to be held.

The pandemic had ruined this objective and the Tokyo Olympics were finally held behind closed doors in 2021.