When can international tourists visit Japan? © Getty Images
When can international tourists visit Japan? © Getty Images

Japan extends travel ban through February

TripFalcon January 14, 2022

Last Update: 2022-01-14 01:48:58

Japan has extended its travel ban on overseas arrivals until at least the end of February, but will international tourists be permitted to visit once the ban is lifted?

Japan once again sealed its borders in November, banning the entry of all foreign visitors into the country in response to the emergence of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.

Prior to the current ban, business travelers, international students, foreign residents, and Japanese nationals living overseas were permitted to travel to Japan when it lifted its blanket travel ban on November 8, as well as athletes and approved visitors during the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But for the duration of the pandemic the rest of the world has been effectively shut out under one of the toughest COVID-19 border policies in the world.

Tourism in Japan has been restricted to domestic tourism during the pandemic © Getty Images

Japan recorded its first case of Omicron on November 30 and since then infection rates have steadily increased. The government's plan to extend the travel ban until the end of February (allowing only foreigners with resident status to return and exceptional cases) is intended to give it time to overcome the peak of Japan's sixth wave.

"We'll maintain the current framework of measures until the end of February... while taking necessary measures from the perspective of humanitarian and national interests," Japan's prime minister Fumio Kishida told Reuters.

When can tourists travel to Japan?

Once the ban is lifted at the end of February, it's unclear who will be permitted to travel to Japan. Presumably Japan will allow business travelers and international students to return again and resume the phased reopening plan that had started in early November, but that hasn't been confirmed.

As for international tourists the situation is even less clear. "Unfortunately, we don't have any more information than the extension of the travel ban through February," a spokesperson for the tourism board told Lonely Planet.

While a statement on US Embassy in Japan's website reads: "travel for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the short term. Visa-free travel is suspended."

Despite the travel bans, government is sticking to its 2030 tourism goals—so it's possible we'll see a gradual return to tourism later this year. 

Source: lonelyplanet