Japan launches reopening trial for foreign tourists

Japan has launched a trial to allow a limited number of foreign tourists to enter the country.

The government plans to accept foreign tourists in stages from June or later as the coronavirus infection situation improves.

On Tuesday, the first group of participants arrived at Narita airport.

The seven American travel agency employees are to visit eastern and northeastern Japan for about a week, accompanied by Japanese tour guides.

A woman who runs a travel agency in Hawaii said she was checking infection control measures in Japan. She said she hopes to bring customers next time.

Through the trial, Japanese officials hope to find effective ways to get tourists to follow Japan’s basic infection control measures, such as checking temperatures, washing hands and wearing masks.

Tourism Minister Saito Tetsuo said the start of the test would be a turning point for the country’s tourism industry.

A total of about 50 people from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore will join the trial tours this month to visit tourist sites in 12 prefectures. Participants must have received their third vaccine.

The tourism test will help Japanese authorities decide when the country can begin to fully accept foreign tourists again.