Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) announced Tuesday, May 17, that small groups will be allowed to travel in Japan starting May 17. This is part of a trial before full opening the country to foreign tourists.
According to Tuesday's statement by the country's tourist agency, the trial will enable the government to evaluate safety protocols and how to treat Covid-19 infections among trial participants.
The statement stated that the venture would allow them to check compliance and emergency response for infection prevention, and to formulate guidelines for travel agents and accommodation operators to remember.
Due to increased border controls against the Omicron variant, the trial was delayed until the end of 2021. The trial will be open only to triple-vaccinated travelers from Australia, Singapore and Thailand. Japan Tourism Agency will coordinate the tours with travel agencies. Incoming tour conductors will be present at all times. The tour group will be able to create their own travel itinerary.
A government spokesperson, who refused to be identified as it is Japanese custom, said that Japan is looking at allowing 50 tourists to take part in the trial tour. However, that number has yet to be determined.
Participants in tourist activities must also have private insurance.
The current requirements for entry to the country will not be changed. Visitors will need to submit a negative Covid screening 72 hours prior to departure, and again upon arrival.
According to NHK, Japan's state broadcaster, 10,000 Japanese citizens are currently allowed to enter Japan each day. However, the government plans to increase that number to 20,000 by June according to NHK.
Japan is under increasing pressure from both domestic and international businesses to reopen its border.
Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, stated earlier in May that Japan would reopen for tourism in accordance with other G7 countries. However, he did not give a time frame on when this would happen.
Japan currently allows 10,000 new visitors per day to its borders, but this does not apply to leisure tourists. The current border entry rules allow only citizens, residents, researchers and students to enter Japan. Business travelers who have received prior approval are also allowed to enter. Depending on their origin, some may be subject to quarantine.
According to data from 2022, Japan National Tourism Organization, 31.9 million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2019. The country was expected to reach its goal of 40 million tourists by 2020.