Japan to allow non-guided group tours and raise daily entry caps

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – Japan will allow non-guided package tours from all countries and more than double the number of people it allows to enter daily as it further rolls back some of strictest Covid-19 border controls among major economies.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday (Aug 31) the daily entry cap would be raised to 50,000 people from Sept 7 from the current 20,000.

He also said he wanted to ease border controls to spur visits from people trying to take advantage of a cheap yen.

Mr Kishida’s government began to allow limited numbers to return from June, subject to strict rules such as being part of a package tour with a guide.

Japan had 353,119 foreign visitors last year, a far cry from the record 31.9 million in 2019.

Last week, Mr Kishida said from Sept 7 that Japan would scrap a requirement to show a negative Covid-19 result to enter the country for travellers who have received three vaccine doses.

While the testing requirement is being relaxed, there’s still the issue of entry visas. Japan’s border is currently only open for people with Japanese nationality, as well as those with long-term and pre-issued tourism visas. It stopped visa waivers for applicable passports during the pandemic.