Japan to launch ‘test tourism’ for limited foreign travellers from this month

As a step towards complete reopening, Japan is all set to welcome limited travel groups from four countries to try ‘test tourism’.
Test tourism
Time to plan a cherry-blossom trip to Japan? Image: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone.

After a hiatus of over two years, Japan has announced that it would soon start conducting ‘test tourism’ in the form of limited package tours in May. It would be a way of gathering information prior to a full reopening of the country to inbound tourism.

The East Asian country hosted 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019. Though tourism has always been a major pillar of its economy, tourists have not been permitted to enter since it adopted strict border controls in 2020 since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Regulations have been loosened slightly to allow students and some business travellers to enter over time. Individual tourists, however, still do not have permission to enter, despite demands from industry leaders.

Test tourism
The country is ready to welcome tourists again! Image: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone.

The official tourism authority recently mentioned that it would finally start allowing small group tours to enter from later this month as ‘test cases’ to gain information for a broader resumption of tourism in near future. Triple-vaccinated tourists from four countries — the United States, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore — are welcome to step in to take up these tours, strictly planned in conjunction with travel agencies and accompanied at all times by tour conductors.

“This venture will allow us to verify compliance and emergency responses for infection prevention and formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to keep in mind,” read the official statement. The Japanese government is aiming for a phased relaxation of border measures so a balance between the transmission controls and the ease of entry into the country could be maintained.

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