Japan has updated its border rules as the country continues to ease some of the world’s strictest travel restrictions. From September 7th onwards, Japan will allow non-guided package tours from all countries—and double the number of people it allows to enter the country daily.
Although non-guided tours are allowed, Japan still doesn’t allow individual tourists to enter, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s announcement. This means tourists can travel without joining a guided tour, but have to bookflights and accommodation via a travel agency. This is because agencies can share information on Japan’s social distancing rules, and operate as a contact point if a tourist contracts COVID-19.
Unfortunately, even though the country has eased border restrictions, prime minister Kishida did not announce any changes for visa restrictions—meaning travelers still need to apply for a visa. But it’s not all bad news: PCR tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated travelers, and the daily entry limit into Japan will be raised to 50,000 people, from the current 20,000 people per day.
In 2020, only 4.12 million foreign visitors entered Japan, from a high of 31.2 million in 2019. In 2021, the number was just 245,900, a drop of 99.2%. Businesses like hotels, airlines, and retailers in Japan are all eager to salvage the business they’ve lost. According to the Japan Tourism Agency, the limited number of tourists who were allowed into the country spent 120 billion yen (approximately 31 billion baht) in 2021, while in 2019 they spent 4.8 trillion yen (approximately 1 trillion baht), or forty times more.