DestinationsForeign tourists expected to take advantage of weak currency as Japan reopens without restrictions on 11 October.

Japan flings open gates with a yen for international tourists

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Japan will welcome back all international tourists from mid-October.
Japan will welcome back all international tourists from mid-October. Photo Credit: Unsplash/Aphriell Art

Bang the drums – Japan is lifting the ban on individual travellers and dropping daily limits on the number of inbound international visitors to the country.

It will also remove visa requirements for visitors from countries which were exempted before the pandemic.

The changes will take affect from 11 October 2022.

After keeping out travellers for almost two years, in June the Japanese government increased inbound traveller caps from 10,000 to 20,000 per day and abolished some proof of vaccination requirements, if visitors were part of a supervised group tour.

Those restrictions were further eased in September and now – with the yen at its weakest in 24 years and the country badly needing the economic stimulus of foreign tourists – the government has acted to lure international visitors back to its hotel, shops and restaurants.

Japan had less than 250,000 foreign visitors in 2021, well below a record 31.9 million in 2019.

Industry members have responded positively to the reopening of Japan’s borders and the positive impact this will have on outbound Japanese traffic.

Alex Barros, director of marketing and Innovation at Beonprice, a revenue management and total profitability platform for the hotel sector, said the opening to foreign tourists gave a “very clear signal” that the Japanese government sees the wider world as safe again.

“This is something that will be comforting to Japanese tourists. Hotels should therefore be activating their Japan sales and marketing channels again.” 

Shinichi Inoue, president of All Nippon Airways, told reporters, "We will see a significant impact on the economy", adding that the yen's sharp decline against the dollar is a "huge attraction" to foreigners.

Wolfgang Emperger, senior vice president at Shiji Group, said the recovery in Japanese outbound would be slow because of the weak yen but that should not detract from the value to hotels of Japanese tourists.

“They book further in advance, stay for longer, cancel less, take higher room categories and spend more in the property on services like room service or buying in-destination experiences via the concierge,” Emperger added.

Along with Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong are planning to reopen their borders fully to international travellers, leaving only mainland China and North Korea with Covid-19 entry restrictions still in place.

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