Speed Reads

Lost in Japan

Japan opens border for tourism after almost 3 years of COVID restrictions

After nearly three years of pandemic isolation, Japan has opened its borders to tourists. Bloomberg reports that the country has allowed visitors from 68 countries to enter without visas, in hopes of a tourism boom.

Japan is hoping to reap the benefits of tourism to jumpstart the economy, especially since the yen's value is at a 24-year low, reports Reuters. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set a goal of five trillion yen ($34.5 billion) in tourist spending, a goal which will likely not come to fruition. It may take some time for tourism in Japan to return to the pre-pandemic peak, reports the Japan Times. In a report by the Nomura Research Institute, overseas visitor spending will likely only reach 2.1 trillion yen by 2023, and won't hit pre-pandemic levels before 2025, Reuters continues. 

Due to the pandemic isolation, many Japanese businesses, especially hotels and souvenir shops have suffered. Tourism has always been a large industry in the country, especially visitors from China, who tend to make up the largest percentage of tourists, continues Japan Times. China has implemented its "COVID zero" policy limiting movement. Japan is hoping that removing the barriers to tourism will bring back the economy. It also implemented the National Travel Discount program, for Japanese residents to travel to any of the prefectures within the country. 

"This is a unique opportunity to travel right after the border opens," said Forrest Lin, a travel agent from Portland, Oregon, "things are going to get so busy."