Japan’s Strict Travel Requirements Remain Despite Reopening to Foreign Tourists

Despite reopening to foreign visitors after a tough two-year battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, Japan has implemented new travel restrictions.

On Friday, the Japanese government reopened the country’s borders to tourists from nearly 100 nations and regions.

However, travelers must be part of a package tour and purchase health insurance to be allowed entry.

The new law also requires visitors to wear masks in all public places, including outside, and to avoid the so-called “three Cs,” which are closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings.

The Japan Tourism Agency said earlier this week that tour leaders were required to escort international arrivals “from entry to departure.” It also asked tour guides to help tour participants remember necessary measures to prevent infection, including wearing masks at every tour stage.

“Even outdoors, the wearing of masks should continue in situations where people are conversing in close proximity,” the agency added.

But some world tour operators have seen an increase in interest in visiting Japan despite strict controls.

Singapore-based Chan Brothers Travel’s spokesman Jeremiah Wong revealed that inquiries have been streaming exponentially since the country’s reopening was announced, adding that travelers seem to have no qualms about enjoying their long-awaited vacation after more than two years of travel bans.

However, travel agencies are not sure when the first tour to Japan might start. According to Mr. Wong, the “potentially earliest departure will be after mid-July due to the requirement for tourist visa application for all travelers.”

Intrepid Travel CEO Zina Bencheikh also said there was high demand to visit Japan and that her company expected to offer tours covering popular destinations such as Mount Fuji, but it still needs approval from Japanese authorities.

Wanping Aw, who runs the Japan-focused boutique travel agency TokudAw, stated that the company received two or three travel inquiries daily but had not yet secured any bookings.

Japan was among the countries with the world’s strictest Covid-19 restrictions. However, it has gradually reopened its borders to help its tourism industry recover while keeping infections under control.

In May, the Japanese government announced that it would increase the daily limit on foreign arrivals to 20,000.