Japan to end all travel limits next month

Japan announced Thursday that it will lift tough Covid restrictions on foreign tourists, reopening the borders after two-and-a-half years.

From October 11, short-term visitors will no longer be required to apply for tourist visas, according to Nikkei. Daily caps will be lifted.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement in New York while attending the UN General Assembly.

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

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Japan currently has a cap of 50,000 on daily arrivals. The country only allows package tours and requires visas for all visitors in an effort to control the spread of Covid.

Mr Kishida added that a domestic travel program will be introduced at the same time. The scheme will offer discounts for travel, entry to theme parks, sporting events and concerts.

The initiative offers financial assistance of up to 11,000 yen ($117) per person for a one-night stay.

People who have been vaccinated three times or submit a negative test result will be eligible for the discounts.

“I hope as many people as possible utilise (the program), which would support tourism and entertainment industries,” Mr Kishida said.

Prior to the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free short-term travel from people from 68 countries and regions including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the US.

The country hopes to boost its tourism sector by taking advantage of the weak yen.

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The currency has plummeted so low against the dollar that the finance ministry intervened in the market Thursday for the first time since 1998.

Before Covid, Japan welcomed a record 31.8 million visitors in 2019, making it one of the most popular destinations in Asia.

– with AFP