Japan reopens to tourism (for real this time)

gand ready for Japan’s grand reopening, take 2. Last May, Japan announced that it would restart international tourism the following month. “We will further ease the controls, so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as easily as the other G7 countries,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the time.

But it sounded like a speakeasy bouncer opening a door and asking for a secret password. When the first international visitors arrived in mid-June, they had to obtain visas, wear masks, take out medical insurance to cover expenses in the event of contracting Covid-19 and be supervised by tour guides throughout. of their trip.

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Now it looks like the Land of the Rising Sun, one of the world’s most Covid-conscious destinations, means properly rolling out a welcome mat for foreign visitors.

On Thursday, Kishida announced that Japan will resume visa-free entry for individual travelers on October 11. “, the Japanese leader told reporters in New York.

By eliminating the cap of 50,000 daily visitors, Japan will bring its tourist activity back to pre-pandemic standards for the first time in more than two years. Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free entry to tourists from 68 countries, including the United States.

As Taro Kono, Japan’s Minister of Digital Affairs, tweeted, “Finally, Japan will reopen the border. Visa waiver is back, no daily limit and free individual visits.

In general, Asian countries have been much slower to reopen to international tourism compared to the many European countries that opened the floodgates to travelers last year. Over the spring and summer, however, vaccinated overseas visitors have been welcomed to a growing number of Asian destinations, including India, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.

One restriction Japan will keep in place: Visitors must still present proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid, which is similar to the current entry requirement for the United States. Canada, meanwhile, is expected to drop its vaccination mandate for travelers by the end of the month.