Japan’s test tourism trial is a turn off for the travel industry

 Thursday, May 26, 2022 


Hiroshi Kawaguchi is an operator of a tour company in Kyoto. He is now happy that Japan would welcome foreign tourists once againafter a hiatus of two years and closing of the country’s borders.

However, Kawaguchi’s enthusiasm declined as soon as he read the fine print.

As part of the Japan Tourism Agency’s “test tourism” trial that was announced earlier this month, only 50 visitors from four countries – Australia, Thailand, the US and Singapore will be permitted to take part in tours that would beplanned bya handful of travel agencies.

The tour groups will also be limited to tripled-vaccinated visitors, restricted by four people and escorted by a guide constantly.

The trial run is as per a pledge by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to simplify border restrictions from June, and it will be used to gather information and improve infection control initiatives for a broader recommencement of tourism at a date, which is yet to be decided.

Japan shut down its borders in April 2020, and since then, online travel forums and social media groups have discussed continuouslyregarding the time regarding when the nation will again open its borders for foreign tourists.

Reopening pressure has increased like other East Asian countries, together with South Korea and Malaysia, who have restarted tourism after long isolation periods. The Japanese economy faces challengesin the midst of the yen’s decline to a 20-year low against the US dollar.

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