Published on : Wednesday, January 9, 2019
From Monday, Japan started collecting a ¥1,000 departure tax from each traveller leaving the country for funding measures to attract more foreign visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and beyond.
The new tax applies to both air and sea travel, and will be tacked onto transportation fares of passengers who bought tickets from Monday onwards irrespective of their nationality. Children under the age of 2 and transit passengers leaving Japan within 24 hours of arrival will be exempted from the tax. The tax will also not be imposed on those who depart after entering the country due to bad weather or other unavoidable circumstances.
The levy is the first new permanent tax to be introduced since the land value tax came into effect in 1992.
In fiscal 2019, the government estimates that revenue generated by the departure tax will reach ¥50 billion. The government plans to use the money mostly for introducing more facial recognition gates at air and seaports for faster immigration procedures and initiating more languages in information services at cultural properties and national parks.
Japan has witnessed a surge in the annual number of inbound tourists in recent years, topping the 30 million mark for the first time in 2018 according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
This growth was due to a steady increase in Asian tourists, particularly from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Aiming to welcome 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, the Japan government plans to use the tax revenue to attract more visitors from Europe as well.