Japan to allow tour groups starting this month: Report | Tourism

Arrivals must have three COVID vaccines and be part of a package tour with a fixed itinerary, according to the report.

By Bloomberg

Japan is set to experiment with opening its borders to small groups of vaccinated foreign tourists as early as this month, Fuji News Network reported, in a potential lifeline for Japan’s struggling travel industry. country.

Those wishing to visit must have undergone three Covid vaccinations and be part of a package tour with a fixed itinerary, FNN said on Friday, citing several government officials. The limited resumption of inbound tourism will be treated as an experiment and, if infections do not spread, the program will be expanded, he said.

The report came a day after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech in London that he planned to ease pandemic-related border restrictions in line with other wealthy democracies from June. He then added a note of caution, telling reporters he needed to review the status of infections after a series of public holidays in late April and early May known as Golden Week.

The loosening of borders would be welcomed by Japan’s tourism industry, which has urged the government to allow more foreign visitors to take advantage of the weaker yen. Until the pandemic, inbound travel was a rare bright spot for the Japanese economy, with the number of overseas visitors quintupling between 2011 and 2019.

“Starting in June, based on expert advice, we will review coronavirus regulations, including border policies, in stages,” Kishida said Thursday evening. “We are still in a period of transition to normal life.”

Although Kishida did not mention the masks, the government advises using them and the overwhelming majority of Japanese people continue to wear them, indoors and outdoors.

Several tourism-related stocks gained on the news. Japan Airlines Co. climbed 4.5%, while Japan Airport Terminal Co. jumped 6.8%. Travel agency HIS Co., an industry gauge, erased an early morning loss and rose 2.7%.

“Japan has been very slow in economic recovery compared to the United States in ‘living with the virus’, so in that sense Japan’s reopening will help boost expectations of inbound recovery,” said Ayako Sera, strategist market at Sumitomo Mitsui. Trust Bank Ltd.

The impact of openness may be mitigated by the fact that China, the largest source of tourists before the pandemic, has effectively closed its borders.

Kishida closed Japan’s borders to nonresident foreigners in November, a move that polls showed received widespread public support as the omicron variant spread rapidly.

While new entries are now allowed for foreign students and business people, it has retained a cap of 10,000 overseas arrivals per day and has so far excluded tourists. His cautious stance – which he credits with helping to keep Japan’s virus death rate low – has helped bolster his public support ahead of a key upper house election in July.

Japan plans to double the daily entry cap to 20,000 and accept foreign tourists from June, the Nikkei newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

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