Some 923 days after snapping its border shut to foreign tourists, Japan has officially shucked almost all of its remaining entry restrictions, with daily caps lifted and visa-free travel now reinstated to visitors from dozens of countries, including Australia.
From today, travellers can once again book their own flights and accommodation, without the need to purchase a packaged tour or follow a set itinerary.
Pre-flight and on arrival testing are gone too, bringing Japan the closest it’s been to pre-pandemic days.
The Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is hoping the change will kickstart the nation’s economy and tourism industry, with the latter worth over 4.8 trillion yen (AUD $52 billion) in 2019 alone.
Japan has long been one of the world’s most sought-after destinations, with travellers eager to return to its shores once again – and airlines, hotels and retailers are all hoping to regain the business they lost.
Last year saw just 246,000 foreign visitors in Japan – a far cry from the record 31.9 million in 2019. However, with agents and tour operators all reporting significant interest in the country since its opening was announced, it could be in for a swift recovery.
Japan’s contrast of the old and new, mouth-watering cuisine and inviting hot springs, not to mention its powder-white ski fields, are a handful of its enduring drawcards, though they do have some new competition, with numerous additions in the last two years.
In light of the border reopening, Qantas will at last fire up its much-delayed Sydney-Tokyo Haneda service from October 27, with flights from Brisbane also resuming on December 1 and Melbourne primed to join the duo from March 2023.
Qantas International CEO Andrew David says “forward bookings are tracking well, in particular for the upcoming Australian holiday period”, which shows how many travellers are eager for a getaway.