Japan remains closed to most travelers despite reopening Asia

In a recent essay, writer and Kyoto native Keiichiro Kashiwagi wrote that his fellow Kyoto citizens lamented the “noise” of tourism that drowned out the city’s tranquility and that the “irony of the great catastrophe that was the coronavirus pandemic , has restored the lost beauty of the city.”

If the country reopens, it will need to reconsider how the country has been promoting itself to visitors, including measures to “prevent overtourism,” Tetsuo Saito, the transport minister, told Japan’s parliament in March.

Businesses concerned about returning tourists have been helped by heavy government subsidies and also by a surge in domestic tourism, as Japanese travelers are less willing to risk the complications and possible health effects of a vacation abroad.

While Japanese officials want to let in more tourists as soon as possible, they remain cautious until they see how the situation develops domestically, said Toshifumi Kojima, a lawmaker with the ruling party.

The country has just emerged from a national emergency, which was declared when the Omicron variant sent case numbers to record highs. But numbers in the Tokyo area have risen again as locals step out to enjoy the cherry blossoms. The seven-day moving average was about 42,000 on Thursday, down from about 20,000 the week before.

Since it is not clear how a sudden influx of tourists would affect the situation, “for now, we welcome domestic tourists, Japanese tourists to warm up, and we are considering how to increase the number of tourists from abroad.” said Mr. Kojima.

In recent months, countries across Southeast Asia have been busy easing restrictions on international tourism, arguing that their relatively high vaccination rates and determination to live safely with the virus and revitalize their dying tourism sector prompted a broad resumption of the unhindered travel justified. Japan remains closed to most travelers despite reopening Asia

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