Rocky Swift and Maki Shiraki
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan further eased controls on infection borders on Wednesday, but its insistence on tourist visas meant the yen’s slump could not be avoided. Will translate into a tourism boom soon.
The government raised the daily cap for incoming passengers to 50, 000 from 20, 000 Pre-screening requirements for visitors and returning residents removed – Departure COVID- 19 test, easing one of the most restrictive border measures in a major economy.
Japan Airlines executive Koji Masumura said the easing policy was announced last month, but the real recovery will be delayed as long as tourists still need to obtain visas to enter the country.
“Although the number has been increased to 50, 000 this time, I personally The guess is that it would not have reached this level without the participation of overseas FITs,” Masumura said.
The yen has depreciated rapidly in recent weeks, breaking through ) against the dollar on Wednesday, hitting its lowest level in 20 years.
Despite concerns about the currency’s “one-sided move”, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that currency weakness could pay dividends as border controls are eased.
However, these advantages will not be realized if tourists are not able to enter. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to align Japan with the Group of Seven, but easing is too slow for many businesses.
Japan first officially allowed tourists in June in two years, but only about 8, 000 by July, compared to 80 many, 000 visitors the day before the pandemic.
Travel industry sources said that before applying for visas at embassies and consulates, tourists still had to register with licensed Japanese travel agencies, where it could take months to get bookings.
Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the powerful Keidanren business lobby, said on Monday that easing border measures was not enough. The foreign chambers of commerce say the lack of visa-free eligibility for business and tourists could cause Japan to fall behind economically.
“We appreciate the weak yen, but foreign tourists still need to obtain visas,” said a spokesman for the Japan Travel Agency Association. “We want to see them take further steps to ease the situation.”
Before the pandemic, Japan had visa-free agreements with near 20 countries, including All EU countries, the US and many Asian neighbours.