It is the information so many Australians have been ready for: Japan is reopening to unbiased travellers.
The nation that has been one of many world’s most cautious in its restoration from the COVID-19 pandemic, retaining its borders closed to vacationers into 2022, after which starting a staged reopening with guided group excursions, after which unguided bundle excursions, has introduced that from October 11, Japan will resume permitting visa-free, unbiased journey for international guests.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the long-awaited announcement throughout a speech on the New York Inventory Trade on Thursday, following a pledge he made in Might that Japan would carry its border controls extra according to different Group of Seven nations.
“We’re a nation that has flourished by the free stream of individuals, items and capital,” Kishida stated. “COVID-19, in fact, interrupted all of those advantages, however from October 11, Japan will chill out border management measures to be on par with the US, in addition to resume visa-free journey and particular person journey.”
The announcement will likely be welcome information in Australia particularly, given Antipodean travellers’ fascination with Japan over the previous decade. The variety of Australian guests to Japan grew 324 per cent within the 10 years previous to the pandemic, with greater than 520,000 Australian guests in 2019. The nation was certainly one of our prime 10 worldwide locations earlier than the pandemic – quantity seven in 2019, simply behind Thailand and China – and Japan was additionally the most-searched nation on Traveller.com.au earlier than worldwide journey restrictions took maintain.
“This announcement primarily means Australians can rekindle their love affair with Japan,” stated Harry Sargant, advertising supervisor for Australia-based journey firm Inside Japan. “It additionally means all these Aussies who’ve had Japan pencilled in as a vacation spot, however who’ve been nervous about this visa state of affairs – all of that stress drops away now, they usually can simply stay up for an incredible time.”
An October reopening to unbiased travellers paves the way in which for Australians to benefit from the ski season this northern hemisphere winter in Japan. Resorts akin to Niseko on the northern island of Hokkaido, and Hakuba in Honshu, have lengthy been favourites for Australian skiers and snowboarders, providing mountains of snow mixed with off-mountain cultural experiences. The annual cherry-blossom-viewing season, in April, can also be now a chance for many who favor to journey independently.
“We expect there’s going to be individuals who need to see the traditional websites, Tokyo and Kyoto, however then we all know folks additionally prefer to get off the crushed monitor,” Sargant predicted. “So, areas akin to Kyushu will likely be common; Hokkaido, even outdoors ski season will likely be a incredible choice; and you’ve got additionally bought central Japan, the place the Nakasendo climbing path was getting an increasing number of common, you have bought the brand new Legoland theme park, a brand new Ghibli theme park… Japan is even higher now for households.”
There’s additional excellent news for Australians, too: the Japanese yen is at present at its weakest in a long time, with one Australian greenback shopping for virtually 95 yen; pre-pandemic, one greenback was shopping for solely 65 yen. That makes a vacation to Japan much more inexpensive than it beforehand has been.
Each Qantas and Jetstar have already resumed direct flights to Japan, from Sydney, Cairns and the Gold Coast to Tokyo, with extra flights from additional locations anticipated to be introduced following Thursday’s announcement. Japanese airways ANA and JAL are additionally working flights from Sydney and Melbourne into the nation.
Japan has maintained a number of the strictest border measures amongst main economies for the reason that pandemic’s onset, having successfully blocked entry to guests for 2 years till it started a gradual reopening in June.
Japan’s insistence that guests receive visas to enter the nation after which adhere to deliberate bundle excursions has been a serious sticking level. Previous to the pandemic, Japan had visa waiver agreements with practically 70 nations and areas, together with Australia, in addition to america, the European Union, and lots of Asian neighbours.
From October 11, Japan will restore particular person tourism and visa-waiver journey to folks from sure nations, together with Australia, so long as they’re vaccinated. On the identical time, it’s going to additionally scrap a every day cap on arrivals to the nation, at present set at 50,000, and should revise laws on accommodations, permitting them to refuse friends who do not abide by an infection controls, akin to masks sporting throughout an outbreak, home media reported.
Japan formally let in vacationers in June for the primary time in two years, however solely about 8000 arrived by July, in contrast with greater than 80,000 guests a day earlier than the pandemic.
See additionally: Twenty issues that may shock first-time guests to Japan
See additionally: Podcast: Why we love Tokyo