Latest Japan ski & tourism news

Sandy

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The Japanese Govt needs to understand that if no clarity is given by mid say, the end of August (or sooner), snow sports enthusiasts will pull up stumps and take their business to other countries.

They also don't seem to understand that foreigners DO NOT WANT planned tours with a tour guide. This is another facet of Japanese culture in general, that most Japanese assume that foreigners do the same things that Japanese do......
e.g. Dressing their dogs and putting them in strollers, taking shoes off at the front door, etc.
 

Sandy

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Yep, ridiculous. Be almost like trying to visit North Korea.
The current entry rules for foreigners are actually not too much different to what's required for returning Japanese citizens and residents:

For the last year and a half, I've had to sign The Pledge every time I've returned to Japan, so I don't really think it's out of the ordinary for them to do the same with tourists!! Even Japanese citizens must sign The Pledge, so it's not just foreigners.

I understand and accept that, if I violate the pledge, my name (name and nationality in the case of a non-Japanese) and information that contributes to the prevention of the spread of infection may be publicized by the relevant authorities and I may be subject
to detention under the provisions of the Quarantine Act.

However, the consequences are different:
- Japanese: Naming & shaming, and possible detention
- Foreigners: Cancellation of visa and deportation


Last month, Japan softened its mask guidance to note that masks aren’t always necessary outdoors. Still, most people in Japan continue to wear masks when outside. They’re still recommended when in crowded places or during conversations outdoors, as well as in most indoor spaces and on public transport, according to the health ministry.​

Wearing masks was never a rule in Japan, but everybody wears them. I know of Japanese people who have been chastised and shamed into wearing masks on trains when they haven't been wearing them. The social pressure to comply is strong, and I wear a mask in all those situations because I don't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself as a foreigner doing the wrong thing. (Actually, I've always felt pressure to behave in this way well before COVID)
 
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PMG

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Meanwhile I received this email yesterday. Can't imagine there'll be a rush of passengers.



Flight Schedule Updates Through September 2022

We are pleased to announce our latest flight schedules through to September 2022, from Australia to Japan and on to Europe and North America.

Japan Airlines will connect travellers between Sydney and Tokyo Haneda with 5 weekly flights from July, and twice weekly flights between Melbourne and Tokyo Narita, increasing to three per week from September.
Enjoy greater connectivity to destinations such as London, Paris and New York and more, via Tokyo.
If you would like to change your e‑mail or be removed from the e‑mailing list, please click here.

This email was sent from an unattended mailbox and we cannot respond to individual messages sent to this email.​
© Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. 2022
Nomura Real Estate Bldg., 2-4-11 Higashi-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo​
 

Donza

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Also check the T&C's re cancellations.

Some airlines are removing the covid allowances that have been common place since 2020.
 
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Barras

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Hmm, I think I might have made a mistake. I just booked to go to Hakuba from the 24th of December for 2 weeks without thinking about the Japanese covid rules, forgot all about them, and just paid for accommodation last night.
 

Tasjez

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Hmm, I think I might have made a mistake. I just booked to go to Hakuba from the 24th of December for 2 weeks without thinking about the Japanese covid rules, forgot all about them, and just paid for accommodation last night.
I have booked for December 27th to Jan 10th, Paid for flights but have not paid for accommodation yet - accommodation does not have to be paid until October 31st and can be cancelled prior to this date free of charge.
 

andrew7

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I have booked for December 27th to Jan 10th, Paid for flights but have not paid for accommodation yet - accommodation does not have to be paid until October 31st and can be cancelled prior to this date free of charge.
Hmm, I have flights booked for January but am not far off cancelling due to the uncertainty and heading to Europe instead (accommodation booked but not paid for).
 

Sandy

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Look at the Fuji rock festival.

They are temp checking everyone on entry and on every shuttle bus.
If your temp is higher than 37.5. You will be ejected from the festival.

Its in the middle of summer!

37.5C is the STANDARD temperature for a fever in Japan..... I'm always wary about walking fast before having my temp taken at the airport!!! ;)

The "average body temperature" is around 37C degrees, but can range between 36.1 C and 37.2 C for Caucasians

Strangely enough, the average JAPANESE human body temperature is 36.0 °C , as referenced from the Japanese government data. LOL

I discovered this myself back in 2009, when I was helping with a school tour to Europe from Japan, just after the H1N1 flu pandemic. Everyone needed to have there temperature taken every day and all of the Japanese kids (aged 15-18yo) had temperatures from around 35.5 to the low 36 degrees!!!! The Caucasian kids were in the range of mid to high 36 C degrees!

So 37.5 C degrees is considered to be a fever, similar to a fever of 38.5 degrees in Caucasians

As I've said many times before, EVERYTHING is different in Japan.
 

Donza

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37.5C is the STANDARD temperature for a fever in Japan..... I'm always wary about walking fast before having my temp taken at the airport!!! ;)

The "average body temperature" is around 37C degrees, but can range between 36.1 C and 37.2 C for Caucasians

Strangely enough, the average JAPANESE human body temperature is 36.0 °C , as referenced from the Japanese government data. LOL

I discovered this myself back in 2009, when I was helping with a school tour to Europe from Japan, just after the H1N1 flu pandemic. Everyone needed to have there temperature taken every day and all of the Japanese kids (aged 15-18yo) had temperatures from around 35.5 to the low 36 degrees!!!! The Caucasian kids were in the range of mid to high 36 C degrees!

So 37.5 C degrees is considered to be a fever, similar to a fever of 38.5 degrees in Caucasians

As I've said many times before, EVERYTHING is different in Japan.
Checking temperatures finished 18 months ago here in Australia.
Its pointless.
 
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Donza

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Which rule? The tours or something else?
Tours.

From the article earlier.
It’s hard not to feel this singling out of foreigner visitors a bit disturbing. Although mask wearing and hand sanitising remains obsessive in Japan, it is all voluntary. There are virtually no restrictions left and if you do want to walk around maskless, it is most unlikely anyone will challenge you. Why should visitors from countries declared safe, who have submitted negative PCR tests to qualify for entry, and paid thousands of pounds for their tour, be treated not just as cash cows but as lab rats too?

There are two reasons: politics and bureaucracy. It has been startling to witness how popular the ban on tourists has been; PM Fumio Kishida has been enjoying historically high approval ratings, and with Upper House elections in July there seems little point in changing a winning formula. What’s more, a whole industry has been created around the enforcement of a bewilderingly complex set of regulations with thousands employed and a huge budget. Dismantling that and redeploying the staff, in a country where government employees are almost never laid off, is not easy, or, for those in power, necessarily desirable.
 

Sandy

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Tours.

From the article earlier.
It’s hard not to feel this singling out of foreigner visitors a bit disturbing. Although mask wearing and hand sanitising remains obsessive in Japan, it is all voluntary. There are virtually no restrictions left and if you do want to walk around maskless, it is most unlikely anyone will challenge you. Why should visitors from countries declared safe, who have submitted negative PCR tests to qualify for entry, and paid thousands of pounds for their tour, be treated not just as cash cows but as lab rats too?

There are two reasons: politics and bureaucracy. It has been startling to witness how popular the ban on tourists has been; PM Fumio Kishida has been enjoying historically high approval ratings, and with Upper House elections in July there seems little point in changing a winning formula. What’s more, a whole industry has been created around the enforcement of a bewilderingly complex set of regulations with thousands employed and a huge budget. Dismantling that and redeploying the staff, in a country where government employees are almost never laid off, is not easy, or, for those in power, necessarily desirable.
Some of that article is a little misleading.
"There are virtually no restrictions left".... there never WERE any restrictions. But people are still challenged if they are not wearing masks on trains and other indoor places.
If given a choice, foreigners would not wear masks in Japan, while just about every single Japanese person wears them.
i.e. It's important to comply with society's norms in Japan. Not wearing masks will concentrate attention on foreigners and it will be easy for the general populace to blame them if infections go up. I actually agree with the "idea" that foreigners wear masks because of that conformance. Hand sanitising is not as common as the article makes out. I see less and less Japanese people using the sanitisers.

There are no "bewilderingly complex set of regulations" to be enforced in the general populace, because any regulations would not be enforceable. The only "bewilderingly complex set of regulations" are on entry to Japan, and even Japanese citizens must comply with those. That includes having to spend time in quarantine hotels when required.
 
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LMB

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Meanwhile, Europe - all open.
Yep.

I’m a Japan tragic, desperate to go get my gear that is stored there in an apartment that is shedding money like no one’s business.

But even I’ve pulled out of early season Japan. We are headed to Europe.
Zero confidence Japan will open, but we are holding on to February hopes at this stage.
 
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blueandwhite

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We have three weeks booked in Hokkaido in January. Reward flights and all but one of the accommodation locations are refundable. Will wait until closer to Christmas to see what transpires but a return to Europe is definitely on my radar at this point. The cost of the euro flights will hurt but going outside euro school holidays should mean accommodation is still bookable. Hopefully it's all moot and we get to Japan anyway. Plenty can change in six months.
 
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ratherb@thesnow

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If there are No changes to the restrictions by years end, then a tour could work for me, 14 days in Myoko say with a small group accommodated together, meals in accommodation, a guide each day, detailed itinerary for the day at designated resort, collection from airport and daily transport in a single use vehicle.

Did something similar with Powder Recon a few years back.
Would create a small level of employment for guides and tour operators.

I’d be keen anyway
 

Sandy

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If there are No changes to the restrictions by years end, then a tour could work for me, 14 days in Myoko say with a small group accommodated together, meals in accommodation, a guide each day, detailed itinerary for the day at designated resort, collection from airport and daily transport in a single use vehicle.

Did something similar with Powder Recon a few years back.
Would create a small level of employment for guides and tour operators.

I’d be keen anyway
If there were no changes, you'd need to wear a mask while riding.
 
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Sandy

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We have three weeks booked in Hokkaido in January. Reward flights and all but one of the accommodation locations are refundable. Will wait until closer to Christmas to see what transpires but a return to Europe is definitely on my radar at this point. The cost of the euro flights will hurt but going outside euro school holidays should mean accommodation is still bookable. Hopefully it's all moot and we get to Japan anyway. Plenty can change in six months.
There could be a silver lining..... If this uncertainty persists, many snow riders will go elsewhere to NA and Europe, leaving the powder in Japan for the rest of us!! ;)
 

rune

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There could be a silver lining..... If this uncertainty persists, many snow riders will go elsewhere to NA and Europe, leaving the powder in Japan for the rest of us!! ;)
Yep I'm kind of hoping this happens, because I've commited fairly hard to skiing in Japan next year haha.
 
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Ramenman

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Tokyu Group own Niseko Grand Hirafu resort and it seems they are rebuilding their ski-in ski-out hotel (=Hotel Niseko Alpen). The building in the picture is Hotel Niseko Alpen. They say they are planning to rebuilt it or drastically renovate it for post-COVID era.
76ef796a_z.jpg
 

Ramenman

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Zao Onsen will start e-bike sharing service this summer, targeting at tourists from abroad, especially from Asia. A lot of Asian tourists are coming to Zao Onsen in recet years (before COVID-19 hit). Many are coming by bus and they walk in Zao Onsen village. e-bike will help them visit more places in Zao Onsen (Zao Onsen is nicely compact and almost everything is within walking distance, but e-bike will surely help tourists enjoy Zao Onsen more).
d71253-9-5633dec1c66a6169d2f5-0.jpg


Some ski resorts have started having e-MTB too. e-MTB helps us climb up ski resort mountains easily, and I hope Zao Onsen will have more and better e-MTBs too. For average tourists from East Asia + ASEAN, Japanese ski resorts like Zao Onsen are green season destinations as well, so having e-bike sharing service is a good idea.




Rossignol Store Yamagata Zao opened in 2020 and they also have a rental MTB service.
_nc_ohc=xUKnVNH-I-kAX_ojUs1&_nc_ht=scontent-nrt1-1.jpg


 
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Ramenman

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I've seen new investments coming to "Kogen" in recent years. Kogen = Highland. In recent years, somehow, out door activities and places such as forests and mountains where we can feel the nature are getting more? popular. Reportedly, a new 600m length forest street with 14 shops and factories are opening in Nasu Kogen this summer.
map.jpg


Nasu Kogen has ski resorts, however, not major ski destinations in that the region is inland (far from Sea of Japan) and it's dry in winter if compared to major Japanese ski regions. However, I'm happy to hear the new investment. I like Nasu Kogen because it's beautiful and close enough to our properties in Ibaraki, Tokyo and Fukushima.
1654849195687.jpeg


It seems the new street consists of four areas of FACTORY、NEIGHBORS、LOCAL RESTAURANT and DAILY. The street is not fully open yet but partially open already. The first picture is in the restaurant area. The second picture is the factory area. More jobs for young people in rural beautiful highlands, which I love to hear.
028.jpg


86049-3-6287ec9cb00fef430490cadfb6a36ad8-2500x1667.jpg



Tokyo to Nasu Shiobara station (= Shinkansen station) is only 75mins. The accessibility from Tokyo is surely helping the highland attract some new investments. I guess those investments are targeting at tourists from abroad too. It's a good easy drive from Tokyo too.








One of ski resorts in Nasu Kogen



Nasu Kogen is not a ski destination for me but it's a mountain stream fishing destination, targeting at Japanese trouts (such as Iwana, Yamame, Amago and Nijimasu) and Ayu. More green season business is good for me to have more things to do when I visit Nasu Kogen for fishing. This is one of mountain streams in Nasu Kogen (I like fishing in the mountain streams like that)
 
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Ramenman

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IMO, when Japan is really fully open to tourists will depend when East Asian people can freely travel abroad like they used to before COVID-19 hit. In 2019, tourists from abroad spent about 5 trillion Yen in Japan, and more than half are from Chinese tourists and Taiwanese tourists. Their borders are also not fully open (as far as I heard). South Korea was also not open to tourists till very recently. Chinese (including people from Hong Kong) + Taiwanese + Korean account for 70%. So, even if Japan open the border fully to tourists, Japan can't expect to earn much from tourists from abroad. So, I assume the current regime are looking at East Asian countries now.
 

skifree

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IMO, when Japan is really fully open to tourists will depend when East Asian people can freely travel abroad like they used to before COVID-19 hit. In 2019, tourists from abroad spent about 5 trillion Yen in Japan, and more than half are from Chinese tourists and Taiwanese tourists. Their borders are also not fully open (as far as I heard). South Korea was also not open to tourists till very recently. Chinese (including people from Hong Kong) + Taiwanese + Korean account for 70%. So, even if Japan open the border fully to tourists, Japan can't expect to earn much from tourists from abroad. So, I assume the current regime are looking at East Asian countries now.
The starting point for touro cash is opening up.
 

rune

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IMO, when Japan is really fully open to tourists will depend when East Asian people can freely travel abroad like they used to before COVID-19 hit. In 2019, tourists from abroad spent about 5 trillion Yen in Japan, and more than half are from Chinese tourists and Taiwanese tourists. Their borders are also not fully open (as far as I heard). South Korea was also not open to tourists till very recently. Chinese (including people from Hong Kong) + Taiwanese + Korean account for 70%. So, even if Japan open the border fully to tourists, Japan can't expect to earn much from tourists from abroad. So, I assume the current regime are looking at East Asian countries now.
It would be nice if they could see the current situation as an opportunity to open up without suddenly flooding the country with tourists all at once.
It seems like a good chance to start a more gradual return to full tourism if a large portion of the market is still restricted from coming.
 

Chux-sw

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IMO, when Japan is really fully open to tourists will depend when East Asian people can freely travel abroad like they used to before COVID-19 hit. In 2019, tourists from abroad spent about 5 trillion Yen in Japan, and more than half are from Chinese tourists and Taiwanese tourists. Their borders are also not fully open (as far as I heard). South Korea was also not open to tourists till very recently. Chinese (including people from Hong Kong) + Taiwanese + Korean account for 70%. So, even if Japan open the border fully to tourists, Japan can't expect to earn much from tourists from abroad. So, I assume the current regime are looking at East Asian countries now.
China opening up looks a way off yet.

 
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Sandy

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IMO, when Japan is really fully open to tourists will depend when East Asian people can freely travel abroad like they used to before COVID-19 hit. In 2019, tourists from abroad spent about 5 trillion Yen in Japan, and more than half are from Chinese tourists and Taiwanese tourists. Their borders are also not fully open (as far as I heard). South Korea was also not open to tourists till very recently. Chinese (including people from Hong Kong) + Taiwanese + Korean account for 70%. So, even if Japan open the border fully to tourists, Japan can't expect to earn much from tourists from abroad. So, I assume the current regime are looking at East Asian countries now.
Personally, I don't think they want to wait until China is fully open (that could be another year).... if you did that, there would be a huge flood of people Chinese coming in all at once.
They've shown that they want to open gradually, and that can happen if you let the current "4 countries" have unlimited tourist access first: Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the US.
It's makes more sense that way IMO.
 

Ramenman

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Personally, I don't think they want to wait until China is fully open (that could be another year).... if you did that, there would be a huge flood of people Chinese coming in all at once.
They've shown that they want to open gradually, and that can happen if you let the current "4 countries" have unlimited tourist access first: Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the US.
It's makes more sense that way IMO.

I agree, I don't think either that they will wait until China is fully open.

My point is, the regime actually didn't need to hurry up in that even if they had opened up the border to tourists from abroad, it wouldn't help tourism industry much in that "the biggest customers such as Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean tourists" couldn't visit Japan.

The current regime need to show "we are cautious enough". I mean, former prime minister resigned because a lot of people criticized that he didn't do enough to avoid COVID-19 spreading. Soon after Kishida became the current prime minister, Omicron appeared and he decided to close the border, and it boosted the approval rating from mainly "elderly" people.

So, seen from the current regime, hurrying to open the border fully won't help tourism industry much and opening the border fully soon can make them lose supports from the elderly people. I don't think majority people younger than 70 years old are against opening the border to tourists from abroad, but elderly people tend to have difficulty gathering correct information on what's happening outside Japan now. I feel a lot of elderly people believe that majority countries still keep the borders closed to tourists from abroad.

That said, I think that the regime will open the border fully or "almost" fully to tourists from abroad by the end of this year. Actually, most mayors of 47 prefectures keep saying "open the border more to tourists from abroad" and many business people are angry at the current regime (so, in the end, not opening the border fully will lead to a loss of public support, IMO)
 
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Nemps20

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Geez so much doom and gloom.
Hasn't Kishida said he wants to be in line with the G7 in relation to border restrictions.
With the upper house elections coming up and a win for Kishida it would mean 3 years of no votes against him.
Allowing the opportunity for him to come in line with the G7 in opening up borders.
:)
Upper House Election win - Borders open by August
 

Ramenman

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This video is a very new tv commercial of Suntory's bottled natural water. Suntory is a giant Japanese company and I see the commercial very frequently recently. You see ski resorts in the video. I assume some (or many) people on this forum can notice where the video was filmed:).
 

Donza

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As Japan resumed visa procedures to accept foreign tourists last week, travel companies have been thrown into confusion over the lack of communication regarding entry procedures and last-minute COVID-19 guidelines.

The government's sudden moves have generated discontent among many in the travel industry, with some domestic companies pulling out of operating tours for inbound tourists amid the prolonged coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on May 26 that Japan would reopen to foreign tourists from last Friday, initially limiting eligible tourism arrivals to guided tours from 98 countries and regions deemed to have the lowest risk of infection.

The announcement triggered a flurry of inquiries from both domestic and overseas travel agencies.

"Overseas agencies had been looking for tour participants on a spur-of-the-moment basis, so they were confused after discovering visas would be required," said the manager of a Japanese company supporting inbound tourism.

Before the pandemic, Japan offered visa-free travel for tourists from 68 countries and regions including the United States, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia.

But border restrictions due to COVID-19 mean that currently "everyone needs a visa," according to the Foreign Ministry.

Many overseas travel agencies were also unaware that, in order to apply for a visa, they first needed to input the traveler's details into Japan's health ministry system, which did not begin operating until midnight Thursday.

A South Korean travel agency said its hopes of organizing tours to Japan this month were dashed due to the procedure, with July now the earliest it can run a tour. Contacting the Japanese Embassy in Seoul also proved fruitless, it said.

Under guidelines released by the Japan Tourism Agency last Tuesday, foreign tourists are asked to wear face masks and take out insurance to cover medical expenses in the event they contract COVID-19.

Upon sales or reservation of tours, travel agencies will need to gain the consent of tour participants to comply with the measures by explaining that they otherwise may not be able to take part.

During the tour itself, the agencies will also keep records of the participants' movements, including places they visited and where they sat on public transportation.

"We have to explain the guidelines to (visitors of Japan) to prevent problems from occurring," said a representative of major Japanese travel agency JTB Corp.

TAS Co., a Tokyo-based company that predominantly organizes tours to Japan for Southeast Asians, said it was translating the tourism agency guidelines into local languages to promptly communicate them to prospective travelers.

"Although what we can do at present is limited, we have received many inquiries, and interest in traveling to Japan is high," a staff of the company said.

But for small and medium-sized tour operators, the slump in business has proven tough, and many have decided to pull out of running tours for foreign tourists to Japan or suspend operations.

Among these are a western Japan agency that had organized many tours for Muslims and a Tokyo-based operator that helped Chinese tourists visit Japan.

Kishida has stated that Japan is aiming to gradually accept the same number of visitors as pre-pandemic times, but easing border restrictions while rebuilding the country's hospitality industry will prove to be a challenging task.
 

Medicine_Shoes

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A good summary that I read stated that these current measures are less about preventing the spread of Covid and more about getting locals used to the sights and sounds of foreigners again. Also politically, if things go pear shaped, there is an avenue for the government to shift blame onto the tour operators.
 
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Ramenman

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The link is about an international event held in Myoko region last Sunday (from a local online news) with some pictures. I wonder if some of the people in the pictures are Australian living in Myoko:rolleyes:?
 

Ramenman

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Number of people visiting ski resorts in Aizu region, Fukushima Pref in winter season

2018-19 season = about 1.2 millions

2020-21 season = about 0.6 millions (1st COVID season)

2021-22 season = about 0.8 millions (2nd COVID season)

I feel domestic tourism is recovering sharply now and most people visiting ski resorts in the region are Japanese people, so next season will be a lot better. In Japan, there are 5 or 6 major nationwide tv channels and they've been terrifying the elderly people by broadcasting about COVID-19 from 9am to 5pm. I mean, average people are working from 9am to 5pm, so the only elderly people watch those tv shows and fear can help the elderly people keep watching those "silly" tv shows. My working hours is veeeeeeeeery flexible, so I sometimes watch such silly tv shows for the elderly people. I feel the major nationwide tv channels have started changing recently a bit on COVID-19. I mean, some are reporting Thai cases (Thailand has opened the border almost fully to tourists from abroad) and the nationwide tv channels have started mentioning Japan is "too closed" with silly rules. The elderly people tend to change their opinions easily because of those "silly" nationwide tv shows and Japanese politicians are influenced by the opinions of the elderly people. I believe (or I should say hope?) tourists from abroad can travel Japan freely in 2023 January.



The graph below is tourists from abroad to Japan. You see 東アジア 70.1%. It means 70.1% are from East Asian countries (China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong). None of the East Asian countries is "fully" open to tourists from abroad. So, I'd say Japan not opening the border fully to tourists from abroad yet is "normal" in the region (= East Asia). My point is, the decisions of the other countries in East Asia are also important. Yellow one = 東南アジア + インド 12.6% means people from Southeast Asia + India account for 12.6%. Gray one = 欧米豪 13.3% means Europe + North America + Australia account for 13.3%. Black = その他 = the rest.
c60fec2cddecdc54e1ac7fc059425a91.png

 
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Ramenman

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I heard a very good news for Zao Onsen this week.

Japan Tourism Agency have announced some subsidies for tourism related business owners. One of the subsidies is likely to help Zao Onsen a lot. Japan Tourism Agency have chosen 8 tourism oriented regions and help them demolish unused buildings and help Onsen Ryokan / hotel, restaurant, etc owners to renovate their buildings.

What makes the subsidy great is, the budget is 100 billion Yen. 100 billion Yen for 8 villages / regions, so about 13 billion Yen for one village and it's a veeery big money for one small village. The maximum amount of money that each owner can receive is 0.1 billion Yen (100 million Yen) or 50% of the total cost. One village can receive 13 billion Yen and 0.1 billion Yen for each building, then, more than 130 buildings?. Really?. Too good to be true, I need to read the papers seriously now!.
 
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