Beginning October 11, Tuesday, independent travelers can now visit Japan and enjoy the winter festivities the country has to offer.
Japan is also removing the daily arrival cap in a bid to fully recover from the depleting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the tourism economy.
Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced this during his visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, marking the major policy shift after almost 3 years of tough Covid-19 restrictions.
“I hope many people will utilize them,” Kishida said at a news conference.
Since June this year, Japan allows tourists to come in but on guided tours. Non-guided tours were also permitted but their flights and hotels must be booked via registered travel agencies only. Those small steps, however, have been unpopular with many foreign tourists who want greater freedom during their trips.
This time, aside from giving much freedom to do-it-yourself travelers, Japan is also giving discounts and other perks for travel, entry to theme parks, sporting events, and concerts for local travelers as a nationwide local tourism program. Conditions are laid for local travelers to get discounts such as having vaccinated against Covid-19 and other measures.
At least two major airlines publicly extended their enthusiasm for the said ease of travel restrictions and expected influx of both local and international tourists.
“We are extremely happy to see the long-awaited easing of restrictions,” Shinichi Inoue, president of All Nippon Airways, the core unit of ANA Holdings. “We will increase flights from the end of October to welcome customers from abroad.”
“The economic impact of inbound travelers before the COVID-19 pandemic is said to be roughly ¥5 trillion, and we are pinning great hopes that there will be economic effects of similar size,” Inoue said.
Inoue also added that the yen’s sharp drop against the dollar might help foreign travelers to visit Japan.
Japan Airlines also welcomed the move, saying in a statement that the company will fully prepare to welcome visitors and contribute to revitalizing the Japanese economy.
Travel conditions such as being vaccinated or submitting a negative Covid-19 test result ahead of the trip are also in effect.