The Japanese government is preparing to start accepting foreign tourists who do not wish to participate in guided tours in a bid to cope with the drop in the number of foreign travelers visiting Japan.
The country reopened to foreign holidaymakers in June with the relaxation of anti-coronavirus border controls. But all tourists are still required to participate in guided tours and obtain a visa.
Tourists must also comply with anti-infective measures, such as wearing masks, set under Japanese government guidelines.
The government’s move to further ease anti-coronavirus border controls came as the number of foreign tourists entering Japan stood at around 7,900 in July, well below pre-pandemic levels.
Many in the tourism industry insist that the current restrictions are discouraging Western tourists from coming to Japan as they prefer an individual style of travel.
The Japanese government has decided to allow tourists to enter the country without taking part in a guided tour, if their visit was organized by a travel agency. Agencies that organize tours have to manage their clients’ schedules. Tourists will also be asked to follow guidelines if cases of infection are confirmed.
But the government will continue to deny entry to individual travelers who do not make arrangements through travel agents.
The new measure is expected to come into effect in September.