The East Asian country, which remained closed to all tourists following the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in November 2021 gradually began to relax its restrictions in March 2022.
So far only up to 10,000 entrants have been permitted per day with the exception of tourists, but this soon may change as Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced last week Thursday (05.05.22) whilst visiting London he’d be easing restrictions further.
Kishida said: “We will further relax controls, so that in June it will be possible to enter the country as smoothly as other G7 nations."
According to the Japanese Prime Minister, the changes will be implemented in stages. Japan will open to a small group of tourists first to measure the impact before making a final decision to open to general tourists.
The economy of Japan took a hard hit following the pandemic as tourism contributes to the majority.
According to the Japan National Tourism organization, international tourism fell from a staggering 32 million in 2019 to 250,000 in 2021.
However some locals who are currently allowed to go oversees don’t want to travel abroad and opt for domestic travel instead. In 2019, domestic tourism totalled $21.9 trillion yen ($167 billion).
Lee Xian Jie, chief developer at tour company Craft Tabby, said that tourist appetites have changed as people are choosing to steer clear away from big cities and are looking for “niche” activities to do in “rural areas where it isn’t so densely populated,”
Residents of Kyoto, which have complained of its over-tourism problem, have been happy to have the “silence back”.
Lee added: “a lot of people who were quite upset about over-tourism in Kyoto” said “it feels like how Kyoto was 20 years ago — the good old Kyoto.”