Japan to Allow 50 Travelers to Enter the Country As Part of a Tourism Experiment

But there are a LOT of caveats

Mt. Fuji and Tokyo skyline
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On Tuesday, Japan’s government announced that it would start allowing small group tours to enter the country—a sort of small-scale experiment to prepare for the eventual reopening of its borders.

According reporting by Reuters, the Japanese Tourism Agency will begin allowing small package tours from four countries—the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore—later this month. All tourists must be triple-vaccinated, get advanced government approval, obtain special visas (as opposed to regular tourist visas), and be accompanied by tour operators during their entire visit.

“This venture will allow us to verify compliance and emergency responses for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to keep in mind,” said the Tourism Agency in a statement, per Reuters.

According to The Washington Post, the Tourism Agency added that the government will welcome about 50 foreign visitors (a maximum of four people per tour) as part of their trial run, but the exact numbers are yet to be determined. Details about specific tours, like destinations and durations, are also unknown at this time.

This strict “test tourism” is actually quite on-brand for Japan, which completely banned tourists and adopted rigid border controls at the start of the pandemic in 2020. And even as other countries around the world have begun welcoming back leisure travelers recently, Japan still has not announced an official reopening date. (The country has begun allowing business travelers and students to enter, however, though the number is capped at 10,000 daily arrivals).

During a speech in London a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida did imply that Japan would reopen at the same time as other G7 nations, presumably in June or shortly after. But he gave no concrete details or dates, so would-be tourists are still waiting in the dark.

Article Sources
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  1. Reuters. "Japan To Allow Limited Tour Groups from May as Step to Full Re-Opening." May 17, 2022.

  2. The Washington Post. "Japan To Test Tourism with Reopening for 50 Foreign Travelers." May 18, 2022.

  3. The Asahi Shimbun. "Japan Moving to Double Entry Cap to 20,000 From June 1." May 12, 2022.

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