Japan has been among the most elusive tourism targets during the covid-19 pandemic and unfortunately, it appears that trend will continue, at least for a bit.
Borders have remained largely closed and unlike many countries where potential tourism reopening plans were never discussed, Japan almost teased hope throughout. Rumored tourism discounts back in 2021 and hopes of spectators during the Olympic Games have indeed made the waiting, the hardest part.
With many countries easing restrictions in response to promising data from recent variants such as Omicron, renewed hope began to emerge that Japan would abandon or at least reduce current entry barriers, but a new policy will keep virtually all visitors out through the end of February at the very earliest.
Japan Extends Border Restrictions
Japan may open for tourism in 2022, but it won’t be in the first quarter.
On Tuesday, January 11th, Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, held a press conference to announce that unfortunately, current border rules will continue to apply through the end of February.
Under the rules, most citizens and non-residents remained barred from entry. Even business and student travel is largely impossible. For tourism hopes, any real chance will only come after the resumption of what’s considered to be more essential travel and that’s potentially still a ways off.
Hope For Japanese Tourism In Spring?
Resuming essential travel for overseas businesses and education will be a first priority for Japan as the country looks to reopen, but with better weather and more time spent outdoors ahead, there’s potential for that to happen swiftly at the end of February.
Of course, the glass half empty look is that the end of February will see yet another continuation of the current protocols.
If a successful reboot of essential travel comes at the end of February, better weather, which has tended to improve health situations, could signal a chance to reopen tourism on a limited basis.
Much will depend on whether Japan is willing to accept a certain level of risk with more open borders, or take the much more cautious approach which other relatively nearby Asian countries have deployed. Hong Kong recently banned transit travel to more than 150 countries.
If you’re hoping to use points or cash to book a trip to Japan, points might be the best solution for now, since they’re easier to cancel and receive a refund, even up to the days before departure.
At this point, there’s no telling when Japan will open for tourism, but we can tell you it won’t be before the end of February.