1st batch of tourists arrives in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Foreign visitors arrive at Narita Airport on Tuesday under the Japan Tourism Agency’s trial project.

The first batch of tourists arrived in Japan on Tuesday under a trial project launched by the Japan Tourism Agency, part of Japan’s preparations to reopen its borders to tourist groups as early as June.

Under the project, about 50 people, including travel agency staff, in 15 groups from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore will travel to 12 prefectures, including Chiba and Nagano. The purpose of the project is to seek effective measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday afternoon, seven people in two groups from the United States arrived at Narita Airport to spend eight days visiting such places as Nikko Toshogu shrine in Tochigi Prefecture and the historic village of Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture.

The participants are required to be triple vaccinated and covered by private medical insurance. They will be accompanied by a tour guide from a Japanese travel agency who will confirm their activities and health status. Upon entry into Japan, visitors must submit a written pledge to ensure that they comply with certain COVID-related measures, such as wearing masks.

A travel agency president from Hawaii, who is among the first batch of tourists, said she would be able to recommend visiting Japan as long as the burden for entry, such as PCR testing, is reduced.

Based on the results of the project, the JTA will draw up guidelines for travel and accommodation businesses by the end of May that indicate how to inform tourists of Japan’s COVID-19 prevention measures.

As early as June, the government plans to accept the entry of tourists from countries and regions at low risk for the coronavirus. Tourists will be limited to those who sign up for tour packages with accompanying guides.