As Japan prepares to open its borders to international travel on October 11th, the country anticipates a much-needed GDP boost. 

Tourists to Japan will no longer need to book their trip through a travel agency starting on Tuesday, the 11th of October, 2022. As the country prepares to welcome international travel, and in the face of an economic downturn, the anticipated influx of tourism is set to boost Japan’s GDP.

Pre-Covid, 90% of visitors to the country were tourists, 80% of which were independent travelers. In the face of tight pandemic-induced travel restrictions, in August 2021 Japan welcomed 169,800 visitors, 93% down from its August 2019 figures. As countries around the globe opened their borders since 2021 and began to reignite their tourism industries, collectively contributing to 250 million international arrivals from January to May, 2022, Japan has now followed suit.

Following these reduced restrictions, Japan could expect up to 15.3 million tourists in 2023, 48% of its 2019 total, which could bolster the country’s GDP by 0.74%. In 2019, international travellers contributed to over JP¥4.8 trillion (US$33.5 billion), a much needed boost for Japan’s economy to recover from the pandemic.

“The weak yen would provide a tailwind,” commented Yoshiharu Hoshino, the president of Hoshino Resorts, meaning that incoming tourists can anticipate more affordable trips.

Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at the Nomura Research Institute, added that it will take a “certain amount of time” for these numbers to return to pre-pandemic figures.

“If the international economy slows down because of inflation and monetary tightening, [people in] many countries could potentially hold off on overseas travel,” Kiuchi concluded.

Vaccination and testing requirements will also limit the number of inbound travellers as the Japanese government stated they will still require tourists to have three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in order to enter. For those who are unvaccinated or have received unapproved vaccinations, they will need to complete a negative PCR test prior to departure.


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