JAPAN reopens borders to individual tourists!

Japan will open its doors back up to foreign tourists, after more than two years of closed borders due to the Covid pandemic.

Tourists will be able to visit the country without a visa, and will no longer need to go through a travel agency, from 11 October. A cap on daily arrivals will also be lifted.

Japan will resume visa-free entry for individual travelers on October 11, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Thursday in New York, bringing its border rules close to pre-pandemic norms for the first time in about two and a half years.

“We will remove the cap on the number of people entering the country, and will resume accepting individual travel and visa-free travel,” Kishida said.

Japan’s announcement comes at around the same time Taiwan and Hong Kong also relaxed entry rules for visitors.

Taiwan will drop quarantine requirements for international arrivals by mid-October, while Hong Kong on Friday said it would move from hotel quarantine to stay-at-home requirements from 26 September.

The country has allowed visitors since June, but they had to be part of tours.

Mr. Kishida also announced a domestic travel incentive scheme that will give discounts on travel, theme park prices, sporting events, and concerts. Japanese residents and citizens will be eligible for an 11,000 yen (£69; $77) subsidy.

Similar programs have been introduced in other countries re-openings to encourage locals to spend and stimulate the economy. However, like elsewhere, the rise in the cost of living has been a dominant concern for locals.

The world’s third-largest economy was one of the last Asian powerhouses to keep its borders closed due to Covid health concerns.

Its death rate is the lowest among the world’s wealthiest nations, while the country’s vaccination rate is among the highest.

Japan also never mandated lockdowns or mask-wearing, but many locals readily adopted protections.

Japan saw nearly 32 million foreigners visit in 2019, the last year prior to the pandemic. And the restrictions on travelers in recent months had precluded many foreigners from visiting, reports showed.