Destinations

Japan gets closer to reopening its border with experimental group tours

The Japanese Government announced that it will be operating small package tours in the lead-up to the easing of border restrictions scheduled for June.

The tours will be offered to four countries before gradually opening up to foreign tourism for the first time since it imposed strict border restrictions, due to the pandemic.

Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito said the tours will be allowed from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States as an experiment.

According to Traveller, participants must be tripled vaccinated, enter Japan on a special visa, not a tourist visa, and the tours must have guides and fixed itineraries.

The tours can have a maximum of four people and a total of 50 participants are expected to join the experiment, the Japan Tourism Agency said.

The results of this experiment will be used to compile coronavirus guidelines for tour operators, hotels, and other related businesses, the agency said.

The co-founder of Inside Travel Group and InsideJapan, Simon King, said this may not be the big announcement the world was anticipating, but it’s a step in the right direction for Japan.

“We expect further announcements soon with regards to the easing of border restrictions and fully expect travel to Japan to be a reality within weeks,” King said.

“We still urgently call for Japan to publish a roadmap to reopening and hope that announcements in coming weeks will reveal plans.”

Inside Travel Group’s InsideJapan and InsideAsia have just experienced their biggest sales week since February 2020 – before the pandemic began.

“The spike in enquiries, bookings, and interest in Japan and all our open Asian destinations suggests that people cannot wait to get out there for that next special trip,” King added.

“We are lucky that East and Southeast Asia still has that draw and never disappoints.”

Earlier this month, Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida made the clearest hint yet of Japan’s intention to open.

Referring to the situation in Ukraine, post-Covid economics, the G20 theme of ‘Recover together. Recover faster’ and in light of Japan taking on the G7 presidency in 2023, Kishida suggested that Japan’s borders would be opening next month.

“At the end of last year, Japan strengthened its border control measures in response to the global spread of the Omicron variant,” Kishida said, according to Nikkei Asia.

“We have now eased border control measures significantly, with the next easing taking place in June when Japan will introduce a smoother entry process similar to that of other G7 members.”



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