Japan said on Tuesday it would start conducting “test tourism” in the form of limited package tours in May to gather information ahead of a full reopening of the country to tourism.
Although tourism has been a major pillar of Japan’s economy, tourists have been barred from entering the country since Japan implemented strict border controls in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Regulations have been relaxed slightly to allow students and some business travelers to enter. However, individual tourists remain blocked despite calls from industry leaders hoping to restart tourism to benefit from the yen, which has fallen to a 20-year low.
The tourism board said on Tuesday it would allow participation in small-group tours as “test cases” from the end of this month in order to gather information for a broader resumption of tourism at an unspecified future date.
Tourists who have been triple vaccinated and are from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore are allowed to join the tours, which are strictly planned in cooperation with travel agencies and accompanied by tour guides at all times, she added in a statement.
“This endeavor will allow us to review compliance and contingency measures for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agents and accommodation operators to consider,” it said.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said earlier this month during a speech in London that he would bring Japan’s border controls in line with those of other prosperous democracies in June, but no further details were given, including when the country will reopen its borders fully to tourists will open .
In 2019, Japan hosted 31.9 million foreign visitors who spent 4.81 trillion yen ($40.3 billion).
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/japan-announces-test-tourism-from-may-as-step-to-full-re-opening-41657097.html Japan announces “test tourism” from May as a step towards full reopening