Japan is open to travel. So why aren't tourists coming back?

CNN -- Aug 01

Summer 2022 has been dominated by stories about travel mishaps, overcrowding at major destinations and airports and life-threatening heat waves in Europe. Yet in Asia, where many countries are reopening in a more gradual fashion -- with fewer flight cancellations or horror stories about lost luggage -- tourists have been slow to come back.

That is especially striking in Japan, which reopened to much fanfare in June 2022, just in time for peak travel season. Between June 10 and July 10, the country welcomed about 1,500 leisure tourists, according to data from Japan's Immigration Services Agency. That's down 95% from the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

Although Japan is accessible again, the country currently only permits leisure tourists to come in organized groups rather than as individuals. For many in the West, who prefer spontaneity and don't want to follow a strict itinerary, that issue was a dealbreaker.

Japan's not-fully-open policy doesn't just apply to visas. The country still has mask rules in many areas, the group tours can be pricey, and Japan requires quarantine upon arrival, which make it a tougher sell.

Odds are good that when and if Japan does decide to fully reopen to individual leisure tourists, they will want to come. The catchphrase "revenge travel" was created to describe the people who saved up their money during Covid and now want to blow it on a big bucket list trip, and Japan remains a popular wish-list destination. ...continue reading