As expected last week, Japan’s Prime Minister announced today that the daily arrivals cap set at 20,000 would be raised to 50,000 effective September 7, 2022, which is the exact date when triple vaccinated no longer need a pre-departure PCR-RT test to enter.
Visitors have been allowed to enter on strictly guided tours from early June, but only 8,155 tourists have through the end of July. The Prime Minister also announced that tourists would be soon welcomed on non-guided tours (whatever this means beyond the Japanese travel agencies collecting $$$ to issue welcome letters).
Entering a non-guided tour is likely not straightforward, as every non-national of Japan currently needs a visa to enter, as visa waiver facilities have been removed. However, nationals of Canada and the United States can now apply for visas online.
It is unclear what constitutes a package tour, and even the Japanese government is not sure yet, per the Japan Times:
The government has not yet come up with details of what constitutes a package tour, but guidelines will be released in the coming days, a government official said.
It seems that this is merely a cash collecting facility for Japanese travel agencies that need to act as your sponsor and issue the ERFS required for visa issuance.
But a tourism ministry official said that tourists will still need to have “sponsors,” or travel agencies in Japan that they can contact if they get infected with the coronavirus, meaning individual tourists, such as backpackers traveling without a sponsor, won’t be allowed in.
Japan’s Tourism Trial has been a disaster:
Previous Japan Coverage:
- Japan Drops Pre-Departure PCR-RT Test Requirement September 7, 2022
- Japan Plans To Remove Covid-19 Test Requirement, Raise Daily Arrivals Cap To 50,000 & Tours Without Guides?
- Japan Opens eVISA Applications For Citizens Of The US & Canada On August 18, 2022
- Japan Tour Canceled After Thai Visitor Tests Positive For Covid
- Japan Allows International Visitors On Package Tours From June 10, 2022
- Japan Doubles Arrivals Cap & Testing Changes June 1, 2022
- Japan Tourism Trial Disappointment
- Japan Begins Tourism Trial In May For Fully Vaccinated From United States, Australia, Thailand & Singapore
The next bottleneck will be the visa issuance unless the online facility is opened for nationals other than Canada and the United States. There have already been reports that Japan’s embassies and consulates don’t have open times for visa appointments for weeks or months.
You also have to question how many western tourists not used to dealing with visas and other red tape are willing to go through these hurdles when most other countries require none.
I guess these non-guided tours with visa requirements will attract a few visitors who visit Japan yearly and put off everyone else.
It appears that Japan’s government is detached from reality and does not clearly understand how tourists from western countries travel today.