New reports from Fuji New Network and Reuters on Monday suggest that travel to Japan could be returning to normal soon.
According to the reports, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could announce this week that tourist visa requirements for inbound travelers would be waived and individual travelers will be able to visit Japan without travel agency bookings soon.
At the moment, Japan is allowing tourists into the country but with strict rules in place—all tourists must book and register with licensed Japanese travel agencies and then apply for a visa. Previously, the rules had been even more strict—all inbound tourists previously had to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test and travel with a registered tour company, two requirements that have since been dropped.
The country had also been employing a strict cap on tourists entering the country, a limit that had been doubled to 50,000 starting Sept. 7. That cap could be dropped as soon as October, according to the Nikkei newspaper.
The changes would be a major boon for Japan, which had been struggling to bring back tourists in light of those rules, post-COVID.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the number of international travelers to Japan in June 2022 was 120,400, which is up more than 1,000% compared to 2021, but down 95% over 2019 numbers.
Japan’s high point for tourism since 2018 came in June 2019, a month when the country had 991,189 international visitors.