Tokyo (CNN) – The Japan Tourism Agency announced on Tuesday, May 17 that the country would begin allowing small group tours in May as part of a “test tourism” trial before fully reopening to foreign visitors.
The country’s tourism agency added that the trial would allow the government to evaluate health and safety protocols and how to deal with Kovid-19 infection among trial participants, according to a statement issued by the country’s tourism agency on Tuesday.
“This initiative will allow us to verify compliance and emergency response to prevent infection and to formulate guidelines for travel agencies and accommodation operators to remember,” the statement said.
The trial – which was delayed until the end of 2021 due to increased border controls against the Omicron variant – will be open to triple-vaccinated tourists from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. The Japan Tourism Agency will plan the tour with the travel agency and the incoming tour conductors will be with the tour group at all times. Tour group tourists will have a specific itinerary.
This latest decision comes at a time when Japan is facing increasing pressure from domestic trade and the international community to reopen its borders.
In early May, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan would reopen for tourism this year in line with other G7 countries, but did not give a timetable for when the borders would be fully opened.
Japan’s current border entry system allows 10,000 new arrivals per day, but does not include leisure tourists. For this moment, citizens, residents, researchers, students, residents’ family members and business travelers with prior approval can enter. Some face quarantine depending on where they are coming from.