Japan to allow limited foreign package tours as experiment

May 17, 2022, 3:12 AM | Updated: 4:31 am
FILE - A rickshaw puller carries tourists near Sensoji Buddhist temple at Tokyo's Asakusa district ...

FILE - A rickshaw puller carries tourists near Sensoji Buddhist temple at Tokyo's Asakusa district in Tokyo, March 31, 2021. Japan's government announced Tuesday, May 17, 2022, it will begin allowing small package tours from four countries in later this month before gradually opening up to foreign tourism for the first time since it imposed tight border restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s government announced Tuesday it will begin allowing small package tours from four countries later this month before gradually opening up to foreign tourism for the first time since it imposed tight border restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito said the tours will be allowed from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States as an experiment.

Participants must be triple-vaccinated and the tours must have guides and fixed itineraries, the Japan Tourism Agency said. Each tour can have a maximum of four people, and a total of 50 participants are expected to join the experiment, the government agency said.

Participants will enter Japan on a special visa, not a tourist visa, the agency said. The results will be used to compile coronavirus guidelines for tour operators, hotels and other related businesses, it said.

The experiment is expected to start sometime next week and continue until the end of May. Further details, including the duration and destination of the tours, still have to be decided, the agency said.

Japan’s tourism industry, hit hard by the strict border controls, is eager for foreign tourism to resume. COVID-19 infections have slowed in Japan since earlier this year and the government is gradually expanding social and economic activity.

After facing criticism that its strict border controls were xenophobic, Japan began easing restrictions earlier this year and currently allows entry of up to 10,000 people from abroad per day, including Japanese nationals, foreign students and some business travelers. The government is reportedly considering doubling the daily cap to 20,000 in coming weeks. Currently, foreign tourists are not allowed to enter.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech during a visit to London earlier this month that he plans to ease the border controls as early as June in line with the policies of other Group of Seven industrialized countries, but gave no further details.

Foreign tourist arrivals fell more than 90% in 2020 from a record 31.9 million the year before, almost wiping out the pre-pandemic inbound tourism market of more than 4 trillion yen ($31 billion).

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Doja Cat performs at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Sunday, ...
Associated Press

BET Awards return Sunday with Doja Cat as leading nominee

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The BET Awards return Sunday with a live show that could see Doja Cat, Drake and Ari Lennox snag some trophies. Doja Cat enters the show as the leading nominee with six. The chart-topping performer is up for best female R&B-pop artist, best female hip-hop artist, album of the year for […]
23 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden, right, waves as he walks past Bavarian mountain riflemen and traditional ...
Associated Press

Biden, G-7 leaders huddle on energy, inflation, Ukraine war

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — President Joe Biden and his Group of Seven allies will huddle Sunday on strategies to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow. Biden arrived in Germany’s picturesque Bavarian alps early Sunday morning for […]
23 hours ago
A staff member works at the Yuet Tung China Works, Hong Kong's porcelain factory, in Hong Kong, Wed...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Hong Kong’s last hand-painted porcelain factory

HONG KONG (AP) — Step into Yuet Tung China Works, Hong Kong’s last remaining hand-painted porcelain factory, and you find yourself surrounded by stacks of dinnerware, each piece painstakingly decorated by hand with vibrant motifs of flowers, fruits and animals. Joseph Tso, the third-generation owner of the factory, and his small team are among the […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: June 26, first Harry Potter book published

Today in History Today is Sunday, June 26, the 177th day of 2022. There are 188 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On June 26, 1945, the charter of the United Nations was signed by 50 countries in San Francisco. On this date: In 1917, the first troops of the American Expeditionary […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Rep. Mary Miller calls Roe decision ‘victory for white life’

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois, speaking at a rally Saturday night with former President Donald Trump, called the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade a “victory for white life.” Miller’s spokesman said the Illinois Republican had intended to say the decision was a victory for a “right to life.” […]
23 hours ago
FILE - This Sept. 20, 2017, file photo shows a sign at the Disney store on the Champs Elysees Avenu...
Associated Press

Abortion ruling thrusts companies into divisive arena

The Supreme Court’s decision to end the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion has catapulted businesses of all types into the most divisive corner of politics. Some companies that stayed silent last month — when a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico — spoke up for the first time Friday, including The […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Japan to allow limited foreign package tours as experiment