Tokyo, May 27 (BNA): Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since the strictest pandemic travel restrictions were imposed nearly two years ago, but only for tours for now.
From June 10, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, Japan will allow people to enter on tours with fixed timetables and guides.
Tourists from areas with low rates of COVID-19 infection who have received three doses of the vaccine will be exempt from testing and quarantine after entry, the AP reports.
This week, Japan is hosting small demo tours from four countries: Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
The trial, which involved only 50 people on special visas, not tourist visas, ends on May 31.
While watching the infection situation, Japan will gradually accept more tourists in stages to the level of arrivals before the epidemic.
Makoto Shimoarisu, the cabinet official in charge of anti-epidemic measures, said Japan will double the limit to 20,000 per day from June 1, which will also include participants in the package tour.
He said the scope of the package tours and other details will be finalized after officials evaluate the results of the current test rides.
Shimoarisu said it will take some time before foreign visitors can come to Japan for individual tourism.
Japan also this week eased mask-wearing requirements. While masks are still required in public transportation, hospitals and other public facilities, people can take off masks outdoors where others are not around or talking. Despite the relief, most Japanese have so far been seen sticking to wearing masks in public.
Japan’s tourism industry, which has been hit hard by border controls, is eager to resume foreign tourism. COVID-19 cases in Japan have slowed since earlier this year and the government is gradually expanding social and economic activity.
Foreign tourist arrivals are down more than 90% in 2020 from a record 31.9 million the previous year, nearly eliminating the pre-pandemic inbound tourism market of more than 4 trillion yen ($31 billion).