Japan’s journey curbs choke off probability for tourism restoration on weak yen

By Rocky Swift and Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan additional relaxed its an infection border controls on Wednesday, however its insistence on customer visas means the yen’s plunge will not translate to a tourism growth any time quickly.

The federal government raised the each day ceiling of inbound vacationers to 50,000 from 20,000 and scrapped a requirement for guests in addition to returning residents to bear pre-departure COVID-19 exams, easing what have been among the many most restrictive border measures amongst main economies.

Journey bookings have elevated for the reason that easing was introduced final month, however a real restoration will probably be delayed so long as guests are nonetheless required to get visas to enter the nation, stated Japan Airways Co. govt Koji Masumura.

“Though the quantity has been raised to 50,000 individuals this time, my private guess is that it’s going to not attain this degree with out the participation of abroad particular person vacationers,” Masumura stated.

The yen has depreciated quickly in latest weeks, breaching 144 to the US greenback on Wednesday, the weakest in 24 years.

Whereas sounding concern about “one-sided strikes” within the forex, Chief Cupboard Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno advised reporters the forex weak spot may have deserves as border controls ease.

These benefits is not going to be realized if guests can’t get in, nonetheless. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to carry Japan extra consistent with fellow Group of Seven nations, however the leisure has been too sluggish for a lot of companies.

Japan formally let in vacationers in June for the primary time in two years, however solely about 8,000 arrived via July, in contrast with greater than 80,000 guests a day earlier than the pandemic.

Vacationers should nonetheless register with licensed Japanese journey businesses earlier than making use of for a visa at embassies and consulates, the place it might probably take months to get a reservation, in line with journey trade sources.

Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the highly effective Keidanren enterprise foyer, stated on Monday that the easing of border measures wasn’t sufficient. International chambers of commerce have stated the dearth of visa-waiver eligibility for enterprise and vacationer vacationers dangers Japan falling behind economically.

“We’re grateful for the weak yen, however overseas vacationers are nonetheless required to acquire visas,” stated a spokesperson for the Japan Affiliation of Journey Brokers. “We want to see them take yet another step to ease the state of affairs.”

Previous to the pandemic, Japan had visa waiver agreements with almost 70 nations, together with all European Union nations, the US, and lots of Asian neighbours.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift and Maki Shiraki; Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)