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After 2 1/2 Years, This Asian Country Is Finally Fully Reopening

Barriers go down in October.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced yesterday in New York that after two-and-a-half years of closed borders, Japan will finally reopen. The prime minister was in the United States for the U.N. General Assembly. “[F]rom October 11, Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the U.S., as well as resume visa-free travel and individual travel,” he said in his speech.

Japan had already eased some rules in June to allow guided package tours organized by Japanese agencies. This month, unguided package tours were also allowed. Currently, those who are traveling to Japan need to use an agency to book their flights, hotels, and ERFS certificates. A visa is also currently required, and the country has a daily cap of 50,000 visitors. 

Related: You Can Now Go to Japan (Sort Of)

However, from October 11, visitors will be able to travel independently, and visa-waivers will be reintroduced for many countries. The government is also launching a domestic travel discount program from the same date for residents, offering them discounts on travel, theme park entry, and concerts and sports events.

A large part of the globe has shifted its policies from lock-down restrictions to introducing plans aimed at living with the virus, all to ensure that travel is more accessible. Japan’s tourism industry has been severely hampered throughout the pandemic.

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Pre-pandemic, the country welcomed 3 million international tourists in July 2019; this July saw only 8,000 international arrivals.

Japan’s economy has also been hit lately. The yen plunged to its lowest in 24 years against the U.S. dollar, and the government intervened to stop the downslide for the first time since 1998. There have been calls to open borders to boost the economy, and this policy change should have a positive impact, according to the president of All Nippon Airways, Shinichi Inoue. “We will increase flights from the end of October to welcome customers from abroad,” he said.

For tourists, a weaker yen will mean more bang for their buck as they travel through the country with more freedom. The lure of ancient castles, lip-smacking cuisine, throbbing nightlife, unbelievable shopping, and gorgeous sceneries will be hard to pass up now that the country is becoming more travel-friendly. Add to that the centuries of rich history, culture, and tradition, and you have an all-rounder destination. For travel tips and ideas, bookmark this guide for the ultimate things to do in Japan.

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